Dec 28, 2013; Charlotte, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels tight end Eric Ebron (85) runs after a catch during the third quarter against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium. Carolina defeated Cincinnati 39-17. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Panthers Draft Prospects: Eric Ebron, TE

Let me just start out by saying that the only way the Panthers will be able to get Eric Ebron is if they trade up.  Ebron is the best tight end in his class and is labeled as the best and cleanest tight end to enter the draft since Vernon Davis.  Rumors are spreading that he is even faster than Davis.  If that is this case, he would immediately make the Panthers Superbowl contenders.  Ebron will go in the top 15 picks so the Panthers will have to give up a lot to draft him.

Ebron is huge at 6’4″ and 245 pounds, but he still has a large enough frame to add more bulk and get stronger.  He has elite speed, acceleration, and the ball skills of a wide receiver.  He is large enough to be an excellent blocker both on the line and up the field.  Ebron has tremendous versatility.  Essentially a faster and stronger Greg Olsen.  With Ebron the Panthers could run 2 TE sets like they used to with Olsen and Shockey back in Cam’s rookie year.  Ebron can also step outside and play the wide receiver position if needed.

Being a UNC student, I have had the pleasure to personally watch Ebron shred defenses the last 3 seasons.  Ebron holds the ACC receiving yards record for a TE (1,805) and set an ACC single season record for receptions this season with 62.  He fell well short of his preseason 12 touchdown goal set by Coach Fedora, totaling only 3 receiving TDs in 2013.  I attribute this more to the quarterback turnover rather than a lack of ability by Ebron.  He has elite size and speed that makes him a nightmare in the red zone.  Ebron has some of the best hands I’ve seen on a college tight end in a long time.  His size and strength allow him to make tough catches, able to hold onto the ball through the hardest hits.  Ebron would be an excellent complement to fellow TE Greg Olsen.  With both of those guys on the field the Panthers could run all over defenses or shred them through the air.  Defenses would be kept on their heels with this formation, as they would not know if a run or pass would be coming.  Ebron would give the Panthers an elite receiving threat and he has the talent to be a contributor from day 1.

Ebron does have issues with his route running and often is not physical enough for someone of his size.  These are things that can be fixed with coaching and experience.  He has the size, strength, and speed to dominate both linebackers and defensive backs.  He is great in jump ball situations and has the potential to develop into an excellent blocker.  He compares most to Vernon Davis but has the potential to be even better.  This is the only guy I would be happy with the Panthers trading up to grab.  Knowing Gettleman though, this prospect is more of a fantasy than a reality.

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