Eric Ebron may be listed as a tight end, but the Detroit Lions are planning to play him all over the field. He's going to be used in a Jimmy Graham type of role, meaning he will get to line up at tight end, in the slot and out wide as a receiver.
Like Ebron, Graham is technically listed as a tight end, and he was franchised as one by the New Orleans Saints this offseason. As a result, he's set to make $7 million for 2014, but if he wins a grievance that results in him being designated as a wide receiver for the franchise tag, he will instead receive $12.3 million. That's a pretty significant difference.
Ebron is a long time away from free agency since he's only a rookie, but the decision on the Graham case will likely set a precedent for years to come. Considering Ebron is set to play a Graham type of role in the Lions offense, it's no surprise that he is keeping an eye on what happens with this particular case.
Really Interested To See What Happens To Jimmy Graham.— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) June 18, 2014
If it ever gets to the point where Ebron is in a situation like this, he may have a tough time arguing that he's not a tight end based simply on comments he made last month. From MLive:
"I'd write tight end simply because not only do I catch passes, I block," Ebron said. "I do everything a tight end does. I'm in the backfield, I do everything. I'm not a traditional tight end, but I'm a tight end."
That's honestly a pretty good summary of the argument against Graham being listed as a wide receiver. He may get a lot of playing time out wide and in the slot, but he's still a tight end at the end of the day in the eyes of the NFL. Listing him as a hybrid wide receiver/tight end would be more accurate, but simply saying that he's a non-traditional tight end is a pretty apt description as well.