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UNC TE Ebron Likely Not a Fit in Baltimore

NFL Draft UNC TE Ebron Likely Not a Fit in Baltimore

Posted in NFL Draft
14+ Comments mike says this guy is the best TE in the draft. For all the plays he will make sure in his first year, he will drop a few. But remember ed dickson wasn't a drop machine u

Four years ago, the Baltimore Ravens drafted a high-upside tight end prospect with the hopes of him becoming the heir to Todd Heap as the face of the franchise at the position.

Nope, not Dennis Pitta, but Ed Dickson.

Both tight ends were selected in the 2010 draft, but it was Dickson who was supposed to develop into the star of the two.

At the time of their arrivals in Baltimore, Pitta appeared to be the complementary piece to the future backbone of the position in Dickson. Four years later, the exact opposite has been the case. With both set to become free agents, all signs point to Pitta returning on a long-term deal, and Dickson ending up on the outside looking in.

After four years in the NFL, what Dickson is right now is likely what he’ll be for the rest of his career: an average blocker and average receiver, but with high athletic ability. Essentially just a guy but with notable athletic flashes here and there.

In order to replace Dickson and/or Pitta, the Ravens may look to the draft, where the tight end position offers a few potential future offensive centerpieces.

But is one of the top tight ends the next Ed Dickson?

Eric Ebron, a junior from North Carolina, is widely regarded as one of the top tight end prospects in this year’s draft class. With the athleticism he brings, it’s hard to disagree with the intrigue. Ebron and the Ravens have been linked as a potential match almost as much as Mike Evans and Baltimore have been.

But is Ebron a good match for Baltimore?

Maybe not.

Let’s take a look at what Ebron brings to the table, and how/if he would be a viable option for the Ravens in May.

The first thing with Ebron is upside, which stems from his incomplete frame and speed. At 6’4, 245 pounds, he presents plenty of room for growth to fill out his body. Throw in his (likely) sub-4.70 40-yard dash speed, and Ebron could be a yards after the catch technician in the NFL.

But that’s where the problems arise for Ebron, who is far from the complete tight end.

In fact, of all the top tight ends in this year’s class, Ebron may have the highest upside, but one of the lowest floors. Whichever team selects Ebron will be gambling on whether or not he can develop into a complete tight end. His most glaring issue right now is his hands, which is where the Dickson comparisons begin.

Ebron’s hands are the most inconsistent of any tight end that is considered a potential first-round pick.

If he were inconsistent when it comes to bringing in contested catches, that’d be a different story. But for Ebron, it’s simple, uncontested passes that consistently bounce right off his hands.

A few examples…

This pass right to Ebron was dropped:

So was this one:

And this one:

Shades of Ed Dickson?

For every head-scratching drop, Ebron also displays the ability to adjust to poorly thrown balls and make catches that some tight ends can’t make.

A few examples of him doing just that.

An enigma, to say the least.

What kind of receiver will Ebron be in the NFL? To predict that probably takes more guessing than prior knowledge, and it’s hard to lean one way or another.

Back to his fit in Baltimore…

It looks like Ebron is best suited for a slot receiver role, and compares favorably to St. Louis Rams tight end Jared Cook with his length, playmaking ability, but also inconsistencies.

He was used on occasion as an in-line blocker for the Tar Heels, but is still raw in that aspect. Ebron will likely make his living as a pass catcher, with blocking being an afterthought. Given Baltimore’s assumed intention of re-signing Dennis Pitta, Ebron is far from the best fit in Baltimore.

Pitta is the farthest thing from a true tight end, as he’s practically a wide receiver. If the Ravens add yet another tight end who leans heavily toward the receiving aspect, they’ll still be without a blocking tight end.

Given new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s usage of tight ends as blockers in Houston, it’s a safe bet the Ravens will want to have one regular tight end that can block.

Ebron can get by as an in-line blocker, reminiscent of how Dickson managed to stay afloat during his tenure in Baltimore. Dickson was far from the most ideal blocker, but he earned the blocking role by default.

Where Ebron sometimes looks lost as a blocker, though, is out in the open, where he often whiffs in one-on-one situations.

His safest bet in the NFL would be to go to a team that would allow him to develop primarily as a pass catcher, with blocking being an afterthought.

If Pitta is in Baltimore, that wouldn’t be the case for Ebron.

Regardless of where Ebron ends up, be wary of the high risk that comes with him. As was the case with the Ravens and Dickson in 2010, whichever team inherits Ebron will bank on him overcoming his wildly inconsistent hands and average route-running, with his incredible range and athleticism being the overriding factors.

See more of Eric Ebron at DraftBreakdown.com.

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Kyle Casey

About Kyle Casey

Kyle's love of pro and college football stems from his passion for the Baltimore Ravens. He has held season tickets in section 542 of M&T Bank Stadium since 2004. He is a junior Mass Communications student originally attending Towson University but currently on a year-long exchange at the University of New Mexico. More from Kyle Casey
14 comments
mike
mike

this guy is the best TE in the draft. For all the plays he will make sure in his first year, he will drop a few. But remember ed dickson wasn't a drop machine until this year, where he really imploded. Vernon Davis was not a great tight end starting out. On top of that we did not have kubiak when we had dickson. Ebron is worth it.

Ed in ON
Ed in ON

What about juice? Maybe our 2 TE sets will feature Juszczyk and Pitta, and we wont draft a TE high...

Thrall
Thrall

You can't compare Ebron to Dickson. Ebron is a potential top 20 pick, Dickson went late in the 3rd round. Ebron's upside is light years above what Dickson's was coming out. CJ should be the pick, I love Niklas but I think he will be gone before we pick in the second. Plus I'm hoping for Jordan Mathews in the 2nd.

Jake
Jake

I would think the Ravens might be looking at Seferian-Jenkins due to his size and numbers at Washington. But, if the Ravens are looking for a more physical TE, then Notre Dame's tight end Troy Niklas would fit. At 6'7" and 260, he actually played outside linebacker for Notre Dame at first just so they could get him on the field. He was switched back to TE. He is an aggressive blocker (nicknamed "Hercules") but a huge target who can catch as well. 2nd or 3rd rounder.

TRUTH
TRUTH

I absolutely agree with you Kyle. I'm not really sold on the kid either. Too many holes in his game. I prefer Jace Amaro of the two - reminds me of Jason Witten. When it comes to what we're looking for at TE he's the complete package with size, strength, blocking, and catching. Would compliment Pitta extremely well and give us exactly what we need in Kubiak's offense. Wish you would do a breakdown on him and get fans familiar with what he's all about. But TE at 16 or 17 in this year's draft? Iono, Ebron has bust-potential written all over him and Amaro is too slow to be taken that high - just seems like it would be a reach this year given all the talent that should be available. Could definitely see us trading back for extra picks tho and maybe taking Amaro towards the latter end of the round. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z86zMcO7dWg <<<<Jace Amaro

Nick
Nick

I think Austin Seferian-Jenkins is more of a Baltimore Prospect than the rest but guess what school he hails from? The same one Dickson came from and if the same coach who the Ravens counted on and trusted when they were asking questions about Dickson is still there coaching this Austin Seferian-Jenkins character then that bridge may have just been burned. I don't know. I like a lot of prospects from the Ducks, they always have a fun, dynamic offense and I would love to see that in Baltimore.

Joshua
Joshua

I'm of the opinion that Ebron is a much better prospect than Dickson was. Ebron is a human highlight reel, who can make plays all over the field. He may be a first round pick.

TRUTH
TRUTH

Here's the consensus breakdown on Ebron: -Athletic -Quick -Has bursts of playmaking -Not a good blocker -Drops a lot of passes Does that sound familiar? I think Dickson is an excellent comparison given the context. Who does that describe?

Tim
Tim

Assuming they actually resign Pitta, I'd expect Fiedorowicz or Niklas to be more along the lines of who they look for to be a complement to the slot TE Pitta already is. Plus you can probably get them a round or 2 later. ASJ has a lot of character questions that would have to be answered before they go there.

TripleH79
TripleH79

I think the Ravens should trade the 16th or 17th pick for something further back in the 1st rnd. Plus they could also get maybe a 3rd rnd and 5th rnd for it. I would take Seferian - Jenkins, Amaro, or Jensen.

Chris
Chris

C.J. Fierdorowicz? Way better blocker, which we need as much help as we can, he will be available later in the draft, so we can take a WR or O line with first pick.....and he has more size. We already have pitta we need a 2nd tight end for Kubiaks systerm. CJ is the best value only TE I would even look at, all the others including Amaro will be gone in 1st round

Tim
Tim

LOL. Not only did they not go to the same schools, but even if they had, the guy who was coach during Dickson's tenure is NOT still there. He is now up in philly coaching the Iggles.

Kyle
Kyle

ASJ went to Washington, not Oregon. Different school than Dickson.

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