Baltimore Ravens Draft Countdown: Making the Case for Eric Ebron

Jason MarcumCorrespondent IIIApril 27, 2014

Oct 27, 2012; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels tight end Eric Ebron (85) reacts in the fourth quarter at Kenan Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Whatever the Baltimore Ravens do in this year's NFL draft, the one thing they must do is find another playmaker to add to an offense that was devoid of them in 2013. 

New Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak was the head coach of the Houston Texans for eight seasons. Under his watch, the offense ranked in the top 10 in four of the past six seasons. Kubiak faces a tough challenge in fixing a Ravens offense that finished 29th in the NFL in total yards in '13.

One thing Kubak loves to do with his offense is to feature multiple tight ends in his schemes, and they've made it clear they want to add another TE to complement Dennis Pitta at the position. 

It just so happens North Carolina's Eric Ebron—regarded as the 2014 draft's top TE—has already met with the Ravens.

After a decent 2012 season, Ebron exploded onto the college football scene in '13 after catching 62 passes for 973 yards and three touchdowns. He was an All-ACC and All-American selection and a John Mackey Award finalist.

Ebron even passed current 49ers Pro Bowl TE Vernon Davis for the most receiving yards by a TE in ACC history with 1,727 career receiving yards. 

At the end of the day, Ebron could very well end up being the best TE to come from this draft class. Right now, though, the Ravens don't necessarily need the best TE.

They already have a pair of Pro Bowlers in Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels, whom the team signed this offseason.

Daniels has had a productive career in Houston with Kubiak, and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh made it clear after Daniels was signed that he was going to be a big part of the offense.

Ebron knows he'll have to earn playing time with whichever team selects him, and he's ready to to put in the work to become a complete TE his team can rely on. 

“Every team wants a complete tight end, an all-purpose tight end, not one that can just run down the seam and catch passes,” Ebron said, via Ron Musselman of the Beaver County Times. “They want a guy that can block, too. I tell them that I’ve been working hard on it, which I have, and that I’m not bad at it, which everyone thinks, but we’ll see. 

"Of course, I’m going to run into adversity. Of course, I’m going to run into guys that are better than me. But I can handle myself in those situations.”

Pairing him alongside Pitta and Daniels could make the Ravens one of the NFL's more efficient passing offense. As good as Daniels has been for much of his NFL career, he turns 32 this November.

That, and he's missed 26 combined games in the past five seasons. That averages out to just over five missed games per year for him. That means Ebron should get opportunities to be the No. 2 TE next to Pitta several times in '14. 

Another way Ebron can get on the field early and often is by lining up at wide receiver. He occasionally lined up at WR for UNC, and he probably will do the same at the NFL level. 

Outside of Torrey Smith, no other Ravens receiver had more than 524 receiving yards in '13. Ravens wideouts only caught 13 touchdowns, and 11 of them were between Torrey and undrafted free agent Marlon Brown.

The Ravens need to add more playmakers at both TE and WR to help improve an offense that ranked 25th in scoring, and 31st in passing yards per attempt (6.2) in '13.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper thinks he could do that with the Ravens, who he thinks have a great shot at landing Ebron.

“I think if Ebron gets by the Giants, I think he lands at Baltimore," Kiper said, via Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun. "I think a tight end with that kind of ability catching the ball, he’s not going to block for you, but that ability catching the ball, Ebron is going to be attractive at No. 17. Maybe because he’s not a great blocker, maybe the Giants pass on him.

“I think Ebron is a talent. If you can maximize it, you’ve got a big-time pass catching, basically a glorified wide receiver with Ebron.”

The Ravens need more playmakers on offense, and Ebron is one of the best playmakers in this year's draft class.