Summary: Dangerous pass-receiving tight ends have become a rage in the NFL, and Ebron is the top tight end prospect to enter the pros since Vernon Davis in 2006. Ebron is extremely fast for a tight end. With his size, athleticism and speed, he looks like a matchup nightmare for an NFL offense.
Starting as a sophomore, Ebron made his presence felt. He was the Tar Heels' second leading receiver in 2012, making 40 catches for 625 yards and four touchdowns. Ebron was a dangerous receiver for Bryn Renner. That season North Carolina was very thin at defensive end, so Ebron played some defensive end along with being a tight end. All he pretty much did was try speed rushes to get disruption upfield, but it was impressive that he was able to apply some pass pressures.
Despite inconsistent quarterback play in 2013, Ebron was phenomenal. He produced long touchdowns and killed teams down the middle of the field with his speed and athleticism. Ebron hauled in 62 passes for 973 yards and three touchdowns. His blocking was improved, and his production could have been even bigger if Renner had stayed healthy and played better before leaving the lineup.
Ebron is very fast with mismatch speed to get separation and run away from defenders. He is too big for safeties to cover and has the speed to run by some defensive backs. When the secondary can stay with him, he has great leaping ability and body control to make catches over defenders. Linebackers have little chance of covering Ebron in man coverage; only elite NFL linebackers with great speed could cover Ebron. He should be a tremendous middle-seam tight end who produces big plays for his offense.
There aren't many weaknesses to Ebron's game. He could stand to add some muscle and improve his blocking, but he has a good starting point. Ebron also could get a little more consistent with his hands.
Ebron is a versatile athlete who can line up in a variety of places. As a pro, he could be used as a typical tight end, an H-back or even a slot receiver. Ebron looks like a potential high-impact receiving tight end in the NFL. As a prospect, Ebron is a top-10 athlete and talent who should go in the first 20 picks of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Vernon Davis. The most similar player to Ebron's playing style is Davis. Ebron has stated in interviews that Davis is the player who he has molded his game off of. Both of them have rare speed and athleticism for the position. They are dangerous receivers who can use their respective individual quickness to make big plays downfield. Ebron will have to improve his blocking to be on Davis' level, but Ebron should be able to do that. Davis was a high first-round pick, and Ebron could also go in the top 10.
NFL Matches: Buffalo, Detroit, New York Giants, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Miami
There are a number of landing spots for Ebron in the top-20 picks of the 2014 NFL Draft. Buffalo makes a lot of sense for Ebron. The Bills need a pass-receiving tight end, and Ebron would be a great weapon for E.J. Manuel. Ebron would be a nice fit for Doug Marrone's offense and appears to be a finalist for the Bills pick at No. 9.
The Lions don't have an immediate need for a tight end after re-signing Brandon Pettigrew, but Detroit has shown a lot of interest in Ebron and is hosting him before the draft. Ebron would give the Lions another receiving weapon and take the pressure off Calvin Johnson. Detroit is more likely to use its pick on another position, but Ebron is in play at No. 10.
The Giants' offense could use a play-maker like Ebron, but there are some doubts about his fit for New York. Staying in the Big Apple, the Jets need a play-making tight end, and Ebron would be a great weapon to pair with Eric Decker. The Jets could trade up for Ebron.
Many project the Steelers to take Ebron if he falls to their pick. Heath Miller is aging, and Ebron would basically give Pittsburgh the big receiver that Big Ben has been lobbying for. Baltimore could also consider Ebron, but that team has bigger needs.
Lastly, the Dolphins could make a move for Ebron. They need a receiving tight end for Ryan Tannehill and would be a nice scheme fit in Miami. The Dolphins would probably have to trade up to land Ebron.