The Detroit Lions head into training camp with a reliable trio at the tight end position, and Eric Ebron will look to be the next breakout star.
The Detroit Lions decided to upgrade at tight end in the draft by selecting Eric Ebron with the 10th overall pick.
Ebron was a second-team All-American for North Carolina in his junior season. He caught 62 passes for 973 yards and three touchdowns. The former Tar Heel is being seen by some as the next Jimmy Graham, and he is expected to provide an upgrade over Brandon Pettigrew.
Pettigrew was also drafted in the first round of the 2009 draft, but his play dropped off in the 2013 season. However, the former Oklahoma State star caught 83 passes for 777 yards and five touchdowns in 2011. At worst, Pettigrew will provide quality depth behind Ebron, and he has improved his blocking skills.
The Lions showed their interest in keeping Pettigrew around by signing him to a four-year, $16 million contract.
Joseph Fauria will also be a key backup tight end for the Lions, and he is a red-zone threat any time he is used in those situations. The former UCLA Bruin only caught 18 passes for 207 yards, but seven of those catches were for touchdowns. Fauria is expected to continue his role as a short-yardage and red-zone option for Matthew Stafford.
The Lions will not likely keep more than three tight ends, but the three that they have make up a solid trio that can rotate to give each other rest. Ebron may emerge as the next tight end superstar if he can live up to his lofty expectations.