The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t felt entirely secure at the tight end position since Heath Miller retired. Vance McDonald flirted with legitimacy and sustainability with his strong 2018 season, but last year was a major regression—not just him, but for the entire offense.
All the same, the collective performance from the tight end group and its state heading into the future prompted the front office to target the position in free agency this year, landing upon former first-round pick Eric Ebron coming off a down year with a somewhat controversial finish, thus perhaps getting him at a bargain relative to what he could be worth at maximum capacity.
He is a player, after all, who posted 750 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns in 2018, and while that scoring number is the outlier in his career, he is pretty reliable to put up more than 500 yards as a receiver. He was on pace to do that again last season, even without Andrew Luck at quarterback, but he missed the final five games after having surgery for a lingering groin injury.
The way the year ended for him drew ire in Indianapolis, and Colts fans still get on him about it on social media. Even Colts beat writers, which is kind of embarrassing, but it is what it is. That’s not the Steelers’ problem. Their only concern is what he does in the black and gold, and so far, everybody likes what they see, including James Conner.
“It’s been awesome. He brings energy every day”, he said of Ebron while answering fan-submitted questions on Instagram Live earlier this week. “He’s eager to learn. He’s a great teammate. He’s only been here for a little while, but he’s getting along, fitting in with everybody, making plays for us. I know he’s gonna do that in the red zone this upcoming year, and I’m excited to have him”.
Over the course of his six-year career, Ebron has caught 283 passes for 3195 yards and 27 touchdowns. If you prorate that over an average 16-game season, it comes out to 55 receptions for 616 yards and five touchdowns, which is not too shabby.
Earlier this training camp, we learned that Ben Roethlisberger invited Ebron to stay at his house for a time during quarantine to give the two an opportunity to get to know one another, both personally and professionally.
Each of them seems to be energized by the prospect of working together, having previously met during the 2018 Pro Bowl, and Ebron has been a fan of Big Ben’s for a number of years—after all, he is a Super Bowl-winning and future Hall-of-Fame quarterback.
It’s just another weapon the front office is surrounding him with, including a host of high-pedigreed wide receivers and a stable of complementary running backs. If the offense can’t get going with this talent, then perhaps it’s time to blow things up.