During multiple interviews, Eric Ebron has joked about needing the headache medication while studying the Lions' playbook. The learning process has proved challenging.
"It was rough," Ebron said about his first month of practices with his new team. "I've had some terrible days. I've had some great days."
Detroit's offense, under new coordinator Joe Lombardi, isn't anything like the spread attack Ebron played in during his days at the University of North Carolina. The most difficult aspect of the transition has been understanding where he needs to be every snap.
"It's just remembering concepts, remembering where to be, remembering how deep to be," Ebron said. "It's all concepts. Just remembering is the hardest part."
The Lions want Ebron to fill the Jimmy Graham role in new OC Joe Lombardi’s offense, so he should see playing time immediately despite the presence of Brandon Pettigrew and Joseph Fauria. Of the 21 tight ends who have been drafted in the first round in the last 10 years, 14 have managed to play at least 14 games. They averaged 35-371-2.6, or #31 TE numbers. (Oddly enough, that's where Brandon Pettigrew finished in 2013.) It usually takes a while for a young tight end to make a fantasy impact, though there has been the occasional exception. Jeremy Shockey (#3 TE in 2002), Heath Miller (#11 in 2005) and Dustin Keller (#14 in 2008) all posted TE1 or fringe-TE1 numbers as rookie first round picks. Cam Cleeland, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and John Carlson all had a TE1-type impact as rookies even though they weren't drafted in the first round. Ebron is an intriguing TE2-type in a potent offense, but he's no shoo-in to make a big fantasy impact in his first season, especially if he’s struggling to learn the offense.