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ebronAs far as complete tight end prospects go, you can’t get better than North Carolina’s Eric Ebron.  He is one of the most versatile players in his class.  It would be easier to name the places I didn’t see him line up (quarterback and the five interior linemen spots) than where he did. The great thing about this tight end is that he fits every offensive scheme and will see the field immediately wherever he lands.  Ebron impressed at the Combine measuring at 6’ 4” 250 lbs., and ran a quick 4.6 40 yard dash.  To get a better idea of his skill set, I watched five of his 2013 games against Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, Duke, Miami, and East Carolina to get a better feel of what he will bring to the NFL.

The tight end is a high energy, high effort player.  He is the best run blocker in his class as he squares his shoulders, takes control of the defender, and seals the edge when he is lined up in the traditional tight end spot. Ebron is even better as a blocker after the ball is caught down the field by another receiver.  He gets good leverage and keeps a good pad level to clear a lane.  When he lined up in the backfield in shotgun situations, he excelled at opening up an initial hole on the line of scrimmage.  The tight end is such a good athlete that he got used on a reverse sweep and looked like Percy Harvin running with the ball!  He will work his way back to the quarterback to bail them out if he senses quick pressure and is a good special team player as well.

Ebron uses good leverage off the line and strikes with a heavy punch, along with quick feet to get off the line quickly. He has great foot frequency for a man his size. While he makes most of his catches with the palm of his hands, there are times that he lets the ball get into his body.   The tight end runs one of the most versatile route trees with crosses, slants, bubble screens, outs, posts, and go-patterns.  Ebron strings together double and triple moves to gain separation deep down the field and is willing to make the play between two or three defenders.  He can hand fight with the best of them downfield and does not give up position or leverage easily.

He is very lite on his feet, can get behind the defense, and get away by stringing a few athletic moves together.  Perhaps the tight end will use a spin move, or will it be a stiff-arm, or he might side step a defender by stopping for a split second to let them pass right by.  It’s that burst and explosion that he generates with his lower body that makes him hard to tackle.  The tight end makes sharp cuts and reads his potential rushing lanes quickly. His leaping ability is one of his best attributes.   Ebron has great balance, but takes way too many shots fighting for extra yardage.  He doesn’t always do a good job of protecting himself and would rather score a touchdown or make a first down than take the easy path and step out-of-bounds or go down quickly.  This seems to wear him down in the fourth quarter as all that contact adds up both on a physical and mental level.

As a receiver, Ebron does a good job of finding the ball in the air, adjusting his body to make the difficult catch (he got a lot of passes thrown behind him), and runs in stride.  He can high point that ball between two defenders, shielding the ball, so only he could catch it.  The tight end seems to love the spectacular catch and attempts a few too many one-handed receptions that leave him open to excessive contact.  He keeps his legs chopping, running thru contact if he can, getting low and delivering punishment when someone tries to tackle him.  Defenders that make the mistake of trying to launch themselves or a shoulder at him usually find themselves watching the tight end run right past.

In college, Ebron was the player that drew all the double teams opening up the rest of the field for his team.  I’m anxious to see how he will do with single coverage in the NFL.  In tight end premium leagues, he might be a wild card and get drafted in the middle of the first round depending on where he lands.  If your dynasty team is just a tight end away, I would make this pick quickly.

For additional questions or comments, you can contact me on Twitter @AndrewMiley or @Dynasty_Blitz.

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