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Lions TE Eric Ebron living up to his first-round grade

NOTE: The views expressed in this EDITORIAL do not necessarily reflect the views of Detroit Sports Nation or a majority of its writers and should not be misconstrued as such. The views contained within are the views of the author and the author alone.

The Detroit Lions selected tight end Eric Ebron 10th overall in the 2014 NFL draft. Since his entrance into the league, his egotistical aura and the constant contrast to pro-bowlers drafted after him have disproportionately defamed his name. The athletic tight end didn’t help his cause as drops and injuries plagued his first couple seasons as well.

Prematurely labeled a “bust” by many, it is now time to accept a reality that may not fit your negative narrative… Eric Ebron is turning the proverbial corner.

It’s not often that suspect hands can be corrected, but it would appear that the third-year pass-catcher has overcome his most loathsome habit. Maybe it was the case of the yips, maybe the flaw still lies dormant and is just waiting to reappear. No matter the case, the Lions young playmaker continues racking up highlight catch after highlight catch in clutch situations.

The video above doesn’t do justice in demonstrating just how amazing of a catch it really was. On 3rd-and-19, the pigskin was thrown a whole three feet behind Ebron. Full arm extension and with one hand, he was able to palm the ball  effortlessly without breaking stride for a 29-yard gain. Not many tight ends in the league make that catch.

When asked about the miraculous grab, Ebron maturely directed his efforts towards the team.

“I just made a play, man,” Ebron said. “That’s all I did. Tried to make a play for the team, try to get us to where we needed to be, and that’s pretty much all I could do.”

After only two weeks, Ebron is one of the few Lions left who has yet to drop the ball. In fact, he hasn’t let the ball hit the turf in his last eight games dating back to 2015. If you take away the one aberrant Green Bay game last year where he let three go through his hands, he was only charged with two drops the rest of the season. Not too shabby for someone who has been eviscerated by fans for his butterfingers. Perhaps his issues have been just a tad bit overblown?

Ebron has turned into one of Matthew Stafford‘s favorite red-zone targets and is only behind Marvin Jones in receiving yards on the year. Despite only having one touchdown on his stat sheet, the officials stole his second of the season after a phantom offensive pass interference call.

https://twitter.com/_MarcusD2_/status/777573785419612164

In what usually ends up being a great sound bite, Ebron kept his composure when probed about what exactly happened on the infamous infraction.

“I’m here to play football,” Ebron said regarding his OPI penalty. “That’s all I can do. I can’t control flags, I can’t control the outcome of that play. So that it what it is.”

In no way am I crowning Ebron the next Rob Gronkowski, but his trajectory continues to trend in the right direction and should no longer be subjected to the incessant belittlement. As I recall, DT Aaron Donald and WR Odell Beckham Jr. were not the first choices of many fans in the 2014 draft. Conveniently, plenty of fans forgot their insatiable appetite for a defensive back, most notably Justin Gilbert, Kyle FullerDarqueze Dennard, or HaHa Clinton-Dix. Two relatively undersized players at sufficiently loaded positions–DT and WR–didn’t incite much interest from a majority of the Lions fan base.

Just for some perspective, if you think that all 10th overall picks turn to all-pros, think again. Here is a list of the previous 10th overall selections before Ebron dating all the way back to the misguided Mike Williams pick in the Matt Millen era:

  • 2013- Tennessee Titans: OG Chance Warmack
  • 2012- Buffalo Bills: CB Stephon Gilmore
  • 2011- Jacksonville Jaguars: QB Blaine Gabbert
  • 2010- Jacksonville Jaguars: DT Tyson Alualu
  • 2009- San Francisco 49ers: WR Michael Crabtree
  • 2008- New England Patriots: LB Jerod Mayo
  • 2007- Houston Texans: DT Amobi Okoye
  • 2006- Arizona Cardinals: QB Matt Leinart
  • 2005- Detroit Lions: WR Mike Williams

No use crying over spilled milk. The Lions have a burgeoning tight end and fans should be excited for the development of a key cog to Jim Bob Cooter‘s offense. There was a reason that Ebron was projected as a first round talent, and it’s glimpses of promising plays like the one below that debunk the bust talk and validate his elite potential.

 

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