It’s been nine years since the Detroit Lions drafted Eric Ebron with the 10th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. For Lions fans, that selection will go down as one of the biggest missed opportunities in draft history, with seven consecutive Pro Bowlers going after the Ebron selection—most notably tackle Taylor Lewan (11), receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (12) and defensive tackle Aaron Donald (13).
Ebron would only last three seasons with the Lions before Detroit unceremoniously released him in 2018. In those three seasons, Ebron saw his production grow from 248 yards to 537 yards to 711 yards. However, his Detroit career will likely be remembered for a high number of drops, which led to fans consistently booing him at Ford Field. Ebron didn’t help out his situation any by constantly clashing with fans on social media.
A couple weeks ago, Ebron, who has been out of the NFL since the 2021 season, joined the “Man to Man podcast, hosted by former NFL players Darius Butler and Antoine Bethea. He used that opportunity to reflect on his time in Detroit.
“You get drafted to Detroit and it’s tough,” Ebron said. “It’s tough, especially when you’re young and a little immature like I was. I only played two years of high school football, three years of college football. Here I am as a professional athlete. I’m still kinda young in the game and I wasn’t ready for Detroit. Detroit wasn’t ready for me.”
Ebron said at the time he didn’t understand the gravity of being a top-10 draft pick and the expectations that come with it.
“You don’t know that. You don’t understand that as a 20-year-old getting drafted,” Ebron said.
He also felt like he wasn’t exactly put in the best situation in Detroit. He had all of that pressure to perform, but the opportunities weren’t there. At the time, the Lions had Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Reggie Bush, and they had even re-signed fellow first-round tight end Brandon Pettigrew to a four-year deal.
“I’m already looking like I’m option four,” Ebron said. “Like I went from Carolina being that dog to option four. Because Megatron is going to see 10, 15, 20 targets a game. Golden Tate went 99 catches that year. I’m like, ‘Damn, what do y’all want me to do?’”
Later adding, “How did y’all expect me to come in this and flourish in any kind of way?”
He said the lack of playing time in that first year—he played a total of 445 snaps, just over 40 percent of the team’s offensive snaps—led him to check out at times.
“You mentally already messed with me. I’m already young, so the fact that I’m not playing, I’m not thinking about football. I’m elsewhere,” Ebron said. “You gave a 20-year-old all this money and told him, ‘Here, just sit down and not play. Learn.’ And I’m like, ‘Learn how? I feel like I’m redshirted.’”
After spending four years in the NFL after Detroit, including a Pro Bowl season with the Colts in 2018, Ebron says he wished he could do it all over again with the Lions knowing what he knows now.
“For the shit that I know now, if I could do Detroit all over again, I would,” Ebron said. “I was not mentally ready for (being) the 10th overall (pick).”