Before Lions tight end Eric Ebron wins Rookie of the Year and plays in the Pro Bowl, he needs to learn what to do when he's asked to line up in the slot, on the line inside, and in the backfield. Ebron spotted up at all of those positions during spring practice and admitted that he was a little overwhelmed.
"I've been everywhere and that is what's killing me," the rookie tight end told the Ross Tucker Football Podcast. "I'm used to either learning the Y or learning the A, which we had at North Carolina. But now it's the Y, the F, the Z.
"Coach just tells me, 'I understand, you're going to get through it ... we are doing it for a purpose. It's really hard, but I'm not going to say I'm not enjoying it or not having fun doing it because I know the more I learn the faster I'm able to play, the faster I'm able to produce."
Ebron estimated that he spent 50 percent of his time in the slot, 40 percent as an in-line tight end, and 10 percent in the backfield during OTAs and minicamp.
He also said he has no problem with being asked to block frequently -- "I'll tear somebody's head off ...." -- but the Lions know that blocking isn't one of his natural strengths.
All of this is standard fare for rookie tight end at the NFL level. Ebron can be an outstanding offensive force, but there are so many other things he needs to do as a pro to get consistent playing time. One thing in his favor is that the Lions already have a veteran tight end who is very good as a blocker, Brandon Pettigrew. His presence might free up Ebron to focus mostly on running routes, getting down the field and beasting.
Ebron is going to have his big games this season; I just think he'll be very hit-and-miss. Don't forget that Joseph Fauria is here, too. Ebron has major value in keeper and dynasty leagues.