Regretfully I admit that I was one of many detractors tonight about this selection but I think I maybe talking myself into liking this pick.
- very smooth route runner
- soft hands, can make the acrobatic catch
- able to create mismatches in the slot
- great on field awareness
- decent length but has a deceptively strong catch radius
- willing to take a big hit to make a play
- measurables are very good, almost elite(6-4,250 - 4.56! & a 32 inch vertical) for a guy his size
- definitely has room to grow into his physique
- has yet to reach his ceiling
- not a strong in-line run blocker
- high drop rate for an elite prospect
- questions of football IQ
- not the most physical player despite having a strong frame
I'm sure there are some more negatives I am missing but I think there are more positives to his game then negatives.
Now... many have lashed out, myself included, because of the position he is listed at(TE) but the fact remains the Lions needed to address the slot position in this draft and this is definitely a step in that direction, as he won't be used as a traditional TE. He is more of flex type that can be moved all over the field to create mismatches. We all saw at the end of the year how this offense bogged down once MegaTron was unable to play at full strength. With the addition of Tate and now Ebron they have added to a strength and in some situations that can help the Lions defense next year and moving forward.
I think another thing that needs to pointed out is that it was clear that the Lions FO were sold on this kid and they wasted no time getting their selection to the podium. That leads me to believe that the everyone involved in this decision were all-in on taking Eric in the Top 10. To me that is an encouraging thought because it shows that this wasn't a hasty decision once Gilbert and Barr came off the board right in front of them back to back and I think it's pretty clear that this was a cohesive decision by Caldwell, Lombardi & Mayhew. Reflecting on that gives me relief that this was the right move.
I think Caldwell and Lombardi have taken notice that Stafford works very well with long receivers and now they have added another long athlete that can make the acrobatic catch. Also fills the slot WR need.
A lot of Jimmy Graham comparisons have been thrown around but not because of their physical comparisons. I think that is because the Lions want to use him more as a mismatch that can be moved around the field. In my opinion a good physical comparison would be Antonio Gates. Good, not great size, but outstanding measurables. I think if Eric puts forth the time and effort to get stronger while can dedicating himself to learning more about the game then... The sky is the limit for him and this Lions new look offense.
One more final thought. Mayhew has done a very good job identifying first round talent and if you look at his past selections in the first round he will grade out as one of the better GM's in that category. I have faith now that they made the right decision tonight and if we are true Lions fan we will root for Eric to live up to his billing and hope he turns out to be a star.