In Detroit, Eric Ebron was a draft bust. Chosen with the 10th overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, Ebron never became the kind of tight end the Lions thought he would be, and this year they let him go rather than paying him his fifth-year option salary.
It didn’t help that there were a whole lot of good players still on the board when the Lions chose Ebron: Six of the next seven players selected (Taylor Lewan, Odell Beckham, Aaron Donald, Ryan Shazier, Zack Martin and C.J. Mosley) have been to multiple Pro Bowls. Ebron never played at anything resembling a Pro Bowl level in Detroit.
But while Ebron is never going to be a difference-maker like Beckham or Donald, he signed with the Colts this year and is changing perceptions in Indianapolis.
Six games into the season, Ebron has six touchdown catches, tying him for the most in the NFL. And that’s twice as many touchdowns as any other tight end this season: Three other tight ends are tied for second, with three touchdown catches apiece.
In four full seasons in Detroit, Ebron totaled only 11 touchdown catches, and his six this year are already a career high. He also never had more than 61 catches or 711 yards, and this year he’s on pace to top both of those totals, easily.
The narrative around Ebron now seems to be changing, from, “What were the Lions thinking when they drafted him?” to “Why couldn’t the Lions get out of him what the Colts can?”
Ebron is still only 25 years old, and tight ends sometimes take a while to develop in the NFL. He may now just be entering his prime, and he may end up proving that he did deserve to be a first-round pick. Even if he proves it playing for a team other than the one that drafted him.