Here was the 2014-2020 scouting report on tight end Eric Ebron: Impressive athlete. Makes tough catches. Can’t catch a cold. Couldn’t block your grandma. Words are just that, actions will speak louder, but Ebron is declaring a new mindset for 2021. He says he’s taken a new approach to being a blocking and thus, complete tight end.
Ebron spoke with reporters following Tuesday’s practice about his brand new mindset.
“I changed my attitude about it,” he said via Steelers.com of his outlook about blocking. “I don’t always have to be dominant on third down or in the red zone. I need to be a full-on tight end. And I took into account learning a lot from Mercedes Lewis this offseason because he’s a badass at it. That’s what I’m going to try to do.”
Ever since being a highly-touted prospect out of North Carolina, Ebron’s blocking has been in question. Not for a lack of size. At 6043, 250 pounds, he’s plenty big to be an in-line blocker. Unlike some athletic tight ends coming out of school, he isn’t a 6’2″, 230 H-back type. But blocking has never been his strength.
His NFL.com scouting report reflected that. Here are several of his negatives.
- “Can improve as a blocker, both in-line and on the move — could stand to improve technique, physicality and finish
- Not equipped to lock horns with NFL defensive ends
- Inconsistent adjusting to and fitting on moving targets
- Blocking effort does not parallel that of receiving”
That tiger hasn’t changed his stripes throughout his career. But as we wrote earlier today, new TEs Coach Alfredo Roberts is hoping to maximize Ebron’s size and improve his run-blocking ability. Ebron’s note about presumably training with Marcedes Lewis this offseason is also interesting. Lewis has become one of the league’s best blocking tight ends for many years now, and effectively functions like a sixth offensive lineman. At 37 years old, he’s caught just 28 passes over the past three years, but has kept his roster spot for his run blocking ability.
It’s not exactly known how and when Ebron linked up. Perhaps it came at TE University that Ebron attended a few weeks ago (Lewis also attended).
Don’t expect Ebron to turn into Lewis, Heath Miller, or an ace blocker this season. But Pittsburgh would welcome any improvement. And if he doesn’t, there’s rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth waiting in the wings to chip into his playing time. That might be as good motivation as any to show some improvement.