When a player is taken in the first round of the NFL Draft, the goal is for that player to have an immediate impact. The first round is supposed to be the best of the best. If a team hits a home run, they have a player who can make significant contributions at a minimal cost for four years. If they whiff it can set them back, and force them to sign expensive free agents to fill the holes that disappointing first round picks leave in the team.
There are no teams that accomplish this goal every year, but some have more success than others, the Ravens being one of them. Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Joe Flacco and Haloti Ngata come to mind, just to name a few. The Ravens consistent success on the field directly correlates with this formula.
If it’s a trend they want to continue, they should pass on Eric Ebron – or any other tight end – in the first round of this year’s draft.
This isn’t a knock on Ebron. Chances are he will have an incredibly successful NFL career and play a productive role at the pro level. Rather, this is looking at the tight end position in general and the impact that these players have had early in their careers.
Going back to 2006 there have been a total of seven tight ends taken in the first round. While some have had success, none have made immediate impacts.
- 2006 Vernon Davis (6th overall)
- 2006 Marcedes Lewis (28th overall)
- 2007 Greg Olsen (31st overall)
- 2008 Dustin Keller (30th overall)
- 2009 Brandon Pettigrew (20th overall)
- 2010 Jermaine Gresham (21st overall)
- 2013 Tyler Eifert (21st overall)
It’s safe to say that Davis and Olsen have been the most successful of this bunch, but early on in their careers they both struggled as well.
In the first three years of his career, Davis had 265, 509 and 358 yards receiving, respectively, for a total of nine touchdowns. Not great production for a 6th overall pick.
Olsen has been very productive recently. However, in the first five years of his NFL career he amassed over 600 yards receiving just once – in 2009 when he had 612. He followed this up with 404 yards in 2010.
One of the biggest complaints you have heard the last couple of years from Ravens fans is they are tired of seeing the Ravens groom guys, who then leave town and cash in somewhere else. Players who spend their first couple years learning under Pro Bowl players, who then produce for one year and leave Baltimore to sign a big deal elsewhere.
With the recent signing of Owen Daniels, and Dennis Pitta locked up for the next five years, if the Ravens take Ebron in the first round he could likely take a similar path.
Instead the Ravens should pass and take a prospect who can play a major role starting Week 1 in 2014.