NFL Draft 2014: What's Next After Eric Ebron Selection for the Detroit Lions?

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NFL Draft 2014: What's Next After Eric Ebron Selection for the Detroit Lions?
Craig Ruttle/Associated Press

The Detroit Lions' agenda this offseason has been no secret. 

Both sides of the football have seen their share of changes, but the majority of moves have been made to the offensive unit. And the new offensive minds of this team seem satisfied with their latest addition.

With the 10th pick in the 2014 NFL draft, commissioner Roger Goodell announced North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron as the newest member of the Detroit Lions

The Buffalo Bills traded the kitchen sink to select Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins (2014's No. 9 overall pick, next year's first- and fourth-round selections), and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers stayed put at No. 7, drafting Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans. With no trades from Detroit and both of these popular prospects off the board, it seemed logical to select a defensive prospect.

In shocking—but usual—Lions fashion, however, they stayed put and landed the 6'4" 250-pound Ebron.

This draft pick has offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi written all over it. Coming from the New Orleans Saints, having watched the damage done by quarterback Drew Brees and tight end Jimmy Graham, it was clear he wanted that same fit in Detroit.

Spending a top-10 pick on a tight end shows the confidence and excitement the team has in Ebron.

As surprising as this pick was, nobody should be doubting the talents of the University of North Carolina product. The tremendous speed and athleticism, along with the red-zone terror he can cause, makes Ebron a potential star of this draft.

A tight end going in the top-10 of the draft means there's something special about this prospect. Ebron was expected to be drafted that high—the puzzling part is the team which took him. 

Detroit found a breakout talent in undrafted tight end Joseph Fauria last year and brought back veteran Brandon Pettigrew as a free agent this offseason. 

If the Lions wanted to move in a different direction from Pettigrew, taking Ebron makes plenty of sense. Pettigrew is an effective blocker but drops big passes and hasn't been the red-zone threat you would hope your No. 1 tight end to be. 

So instead of taking a defensive player with their pick or trading down, they went for another tight end, adding another top-tier target for quarterback Matthew Stafford.

While Watkins and Evans were off the board, a few of Detroit's top defensive targets were gone as well. The Cleveland Browns selected cornerback Justin Gilbert, and the Minnesota Vikings picked up linebacker Anthony Barr. 

The Lions apparently don't believe in the motto of "defense wins championships," or they don't care about it. If they're aiming to fill seats and keep Ford Field excited, grabbing Ebron is perfect. 

Detroit could've gambled on a safety like Calvin Pryor from Louisville or Ha'Sean "Ha Ha" Clinton-Dix, who could become a pain in the Lions' side after going to the Green Bay Packers

If they didn't want to be greedy, they could've traded down for Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard, who ended up sliding all the way down to No. 24 to the Bengals. Any of these three secondary pieces could've become a big part of Detroit's defense. 

Even though this is glaringly a "typical Lions" pick, all hope isn't lost. Detroit can still boost its defense and find some hidden gems in the draft. General manager Martin Mayhew was able to strike gold last season with the help of senior personnel executive Brian Xanders. The NFL draft doesn't come to a close after Day 1. 

But there are still plenty of questions pending about this team after the selection of Ebron.

The Lions will clearly make Ebron a big focal point of the offense, but he's joining a crowded committee of talent. How many balls will be around to catch from Stafford in this offense?

Detroit already has the best receiver in football in Calvin Johnson. It also has the recovering Ryan Broyles, the newly signed Golden Tate, and two great pass-catching running backs in Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. Don't forget about running back Mikel Leshoure, whom the Lions said they plan on using more often. That's all in addition to, of course, the two tight ends Pettigrew and Fauria.

How much action is Ebron going to get? Hopefully enough to prove the validity of this gutsy draft pick.

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Nobody should be happier with this selection than the franchise's signal-caller, Matthew Stafford. Instead of developing its quarterback and allowing Stafford to make the targets around him better, Detroit has made it a major priority of spoon-feeding Stafford. 

The Lions now have one of the league's best, most youthful offensive lines. Stafford has probably the best offensive weapons he's had in his entire career—meaning there are no more excuses for this offense. The drops and Stafford's lack of accuracy should be improved with the new targets and the creative mind of Lombardi at offensive coordinator.

Detroit struggled to move the ball and score points in the second half of last season. Targets couldn't get open, dropping a league-worst number of passes, and Reggie Bush wasn't utilized as often as he should've been. 

There's no telling yet how much better this team will be with Ebron. The measuring stick lies on the defensive side of the ball. The secondary still needs major help. It could use another outside linebacker and another edge-rusher on the line. 

One can't hate the Ebron selection, but one can't help question the logic behind it. Just hold your breath and hope the next move is not another "typical Lions" pick. 

 

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