NFL Prospect Focus: Eric Ebron
Ebron is the first of what will probably be 35–50 underclassmen who declare for next May’s Draft. The third- year junior and former three-star recruit has been a vital part of the Tar Heels offense the last two seasons. In 2012, he caught 40 passes for 625 yards and four touchdowns. To date, this season, he is Carolina’s leading receiver with 50 catches for 771 yards and three touchdowns.
Ebron usually plays in the slot but will also line up in tight. He has adequate size for the position at 6’4" – 245. He looks taller because he is so long. With his long arms, he plays like a 6’6" guy. Ebron has good-to-really-good overall athleticism. He has very good speed (4.6 play speed) and shows body control, flexibility, and change of direction. When flexed out, he shows very good initial quickness. He can get into his routes quickly and has the cutting ability and burst to get out of a cut and gain separation. He needs improvement with his route running. He can find open areas in zones, but he can be sloppy with his routes versus man-to-man.
Eric has very good hands. He can snatch the ball and shows the ability to adjust to poorly thrown passes. He has the upper body flex to catch passes thrown to the back shoulder or behind him. He shows courage and toughness competing for the ball in traffic. After the catch, he is a very good runner. While he doesn’t have the quick-footedness of a running back, he can make people miss in the open field and has the burst and speed to turn a short catch into a long gain. He has the power to break tackles, and when the ball is in his hands, he plays bigger than his listed size. Ebron is willing as a blocker. When playing in tight as a “Y”, he can be a little tall in his stance, but he shows good initial quickness and has some snap on initial contact. He can have a tendency to get a little tall, and he doesn’t consistently run his feet, but these should be easily correctable with good coaching.
Overall, Ebron has the traits clubs are looking for a “tight end” in today’s NFL. He is best suited to play as a flexed out or move tight end. He lacks the bulk and overall size to be consistently effective in tight as a “Y” at the next level. He has the frame and length to add some bulk without losing any of his speed or athleticism. Come May, unless he really falters at the Combine, Ebron should be a certain first round pick. Used in the right way, he is a mismatch waiting to happen and could be a nightmare for opposing defenses.
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