After Eric Ebron's dominant performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, talent evaluators came out in force to see the tight end at North Carolina's pro day Tuesday.
Although the former Tar Heels star let many of his impressive combine numbers stand, he still wowed scouts with his athletic ability in positional drills. At the same time, Ebron displayed some inconsistencies that NFL teams will have to consider come draft day.
Ebron established himself as the top tight end in the 2014 draft class by racking up 62 receptions for 973 yards and three touchdowns at UNC this past season. He solidified that status at the combine, as he ran the 40-yard dash in a blistering 4.60 seconds and crushed 24 bench press reps, according to NFL.com.
Since Ebron didn't have a ton left to prove, his activity was fairly light Tuesday. Many of his teammates took center stage, but all eyes were inevitably on the freakishly athletic tight end.
Ebron's day got off to a good start before he even took the field. According to Carolina Football on Twitter, he has put on three pounds and apparently grown a quarter of an inch since the combine:
His lofty draft stock also allowed him to have a bit of fun prior to engaging in workouts. It's impossible not to notice Ebron due to his superhuman ability, but his flashy socks allowed him to stand out even more:
Ebron was even able to get in some quality time with his family as he stretched with his niece and nephew, as seen in this Instagram photo courtesy of Inside Carolina's Dijana Kunovac:
Perhaps it can be argued that Ebron should have been more locked in and focused than he was, however. He looked like a physical specimen on the field, but it's fair to say that he failed to build upon his combine showing.
The issues started when Ebron decided to partake in the shuttle run:
While he displayed some of his trademark explosiveness, he seemed to struggle in terms of footing, so he wasn't as strong as most probably anticipated.
Even so, there aren't many question marks when it comes to Ebron's athletic ability. Arguably the biggest knock against him is his pass-catching consistency, which is obviously a huge deal for a player expected to be a cornerstone at the NFL level.
Ebron's pass-catching workout didn't get off to a particularly good start, as he quickly dropped a couple passes, although he continued to impress in other areas, according to David Hamilton of Comcast Sports Southeast:
#Jets scouts comment on how quick Ebron is...just as he drops 2nd pass today on a quick out route.— David Hamilton (@DavidHamiltonTV) March 25, 2014
Just as Ebron seemed to be hitting his stride and putting it all together, his hands failed him for a third time:
Ebron jokes with #Giants scout that he's in the groove now. "Don't turn your back now. Don't want to miss this"...then drops 3rd pass of day— David Hamilton (@DavidHamiltonTV) March 25, 2014
As athletic as Ebron is, he won't be able to get by on that alone in the NFL. He'll be forced to make tough catches in traffic, and his performance Tuesday obviously raised some questions about whether he'll be able to excel in those types of situations.
According to Josh Norris of Rotoworld, Ebron had an alarmingly high drop rate at UNC this past season:
Had an 11.43% drop rate in 2013 RT @jjones9: Here at UNC Pro Day where TE Eric Ebron has registered three drops so ffar— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) March 25, 2014
Ebron will have to get past concentration lapses in order to become an elite NFL tight end, and he seemingly worked them out on Tuesday, as he eventually settled in and started to flash his true potential:
Ebron in a rhythm with QB Bryn Renner now. Catches a beautiful deep ball and one that Renner threw behind him on a crossing route.— David Hamilton (@DavidHamiltonTV) March 25, 2014
After a rocky start, Ebron stabilized and limited the damage to three drops on the day:
Ebron ends day with 3 total drops and a double-catch. #UNCProDay— David Hamilton (@DavidHamiltonTV) March 25, 2014
Even with Tuesday's up-and-down performance, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller doesn't see Ebron slipping outside the top 20 on draft day:
Reports from UNC pro day indicate Eric Ebron having some drop issues...but he's still going top 20 on May 8.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 25, 2014
Prior to Ebron's pro day, scouts raved about his high ceiling, and he garnered comparisons to some of the NFL's top tight ends.
He is the best tight-end prospect I have evaluated since Kellen Winslow Jr. Although many are projecting that teams like the Ravens and Jets will be interested in him, a number of NFL people I've spoken with recently believe he will be selected in the top 12, because he is a rare talent who could be better than Jimmy Graham.
Where will Eric Ebron be selected in the 2014 NFL draft?
That is obviously a lot of pressure to put on a player who has yet to play an NFL down, but that is the nature of the beast, as prospects are routinely compared to top NFL players these days.
If the feeling regarding Ebron is truly as strong as Lande suggests, then it's difficult to imagine his pro day adversely impacting his draft status. Ebron is easily the best tight end in the draft regardless, and he's a guaranteed first-round pick.
He could be selected as early as No. 9 by the Buffalo Bills, with the New York Jets likely being his safety net at No. 18.
Ebron proved to be a somewhat flawed prospect on Tuesday, but each and every player in the draft has some issues. His problems can be fixed through hard work and dedication, so the onus is on him to improve his consistency.
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