Football / Sports

Lions take tight end Eric Ebron to help quarterback Stafford

NEW YORK -- Eric Ebron started draft day by proposing to his girlfriend on top of the Empire State Building on Thursday, and he ended it by finding a new home as the feature tight end in what should be a dynamic Detroit Lions offense.

The Lions, after missing out on the top two receivers in the draft, took Ebron, a tight end from North Carolina with the 10th overall pick.

Ebron gives the Lions another field-stretching threat in an off-season that's been all about helping quarterback Matthew Stafford reach his immense potential so far.

The Lions hired a new coach and offensive coordinator with ties to two of the game's best quarterbacks, they made a splash in free agency by signing Golden Tate to a five-year deal and they took a tight end in the first round for the first time since Brandon Pettigrew in 2009.

Pettigrew re-signed as a free agent with the Lions this off-season, but Ebron is a different breed of tight end, a vertical weapon who broke Vernon Davis' record for most receiving yards by a tight end in ACC history this year.

Ebron's addition leaves the future in question for two young tight ends the Lions added last year, Joseph Fauria and Michael Williams.

Fauria, an undrafted rookie out of UCLA, emerged as a red-zone threat and finished second on the team with seven touchdown catches last year, while Williams, a seventh-round pick, spent the season on injured reserve after breaking his hand in training camp.

Ebron said at a pre-draft event Wednesday that questions about his blocking ability are misguided.

"People can say what they want to," Ebron said. "My film doesn't lie. I was about 50-50 (split wide) in my offense, so I blocked a lot. But people can say what they want to say. It's politics."

The Lions got big contributions out of their rookie class last year and will be looking for more immediate impact from Ebron and others this fall.

Last year, first-round pick Ziggy Ansah and third-rounder Larry Warford were immediate starters, and undrafted rookie LaAdrian Waddle took over at right tackle midway through the season. Fifth-round pick Sam Martin handled the punting duties all season, and Darius Slay (second round) and Devin Taylor (fourth) played as backups.

The Lions have seven picks remaining over the final two days, including three in the fourth round.

On Thursday, the first round started as expected with the Houston Texans taking Jadeveon Clowney No. 1 overall and the St. Louis Rams taking Greg Robinson No. 2, but things got wild quickly after.

After all the uncertainty about where the quarterbacks would land, the Jacksonville Jaguars surprised NFL observers everywhere by taking Central Florida signal caller Blake Bortles third overall, ahead of Johnny Manziel.

At No. 4, the Buffalo Bills made a bold move to go up and get the draft's No. 1 receiver, Sammy Watkins.

The Bills traded their first-round pick, No. 9 overall, and first- and fourth-round picks next year for the most coveted pass catcher in the draft and immediate help for second-year quarterback E.J. Manuel.

The Oakland Raiders took pass-rushing linebacker Khalil Mack at No. 5, and the Atlanta Falcons got protection for quarterback Matt Ryan at No. 6 in the form of tackle Jake Matthews.

Mike Evans, the draft's second-best receiver and another Lions target, went seventh to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Browns dealt up from one spot from pick they acquired from Buffalo to take cornerback Justin Gilbert at No. 8.

UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr went ninth overall to the Minnesota Vikings.

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