Former North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron's rare athletic ability has made him one of the most-anticipated attractions at this year's NFL Scouting Combine, and evaluators might be a little surprised when they see him at the event.
Ebron, who declared for the draft a year early, has put on "some significant weight since his junior season in an effort to be a better blocker," according to Bleacher Report's Dan Pompei. Pompei cites a "veteran front-office man," who said Ebron "isn't as fast as he was." However, the source also said "he still is pretty special."
So, Ebron is apparently bigger, slower and still really good.
Listed by North Carolina at 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, Ebron is considered the No. 1 tight end prospect in this year's NFL Draft and is ranked 11th on NFL Media's Daniel Jeremiah's list of the draft's top 50 prospects.
It's Ebron's receiving ability, not his blocking skills, that have made him such an intriguing prospect (NFL Media's Bucky Brooks said during the 2013 season that Ebron is "a functional blocker"). It's admirable for him to show the desire to improve as a blocker, but if it ultimately makes him less desirable as a pass-catching weapon because he's not as quick, it might not have been the wisest move.
Given the lack of specifics in the story about the amount of weight Ebron has gained and just how much speed he might have lost, it's too soon to say if the reported significant weight gain will have any impact on how NFL teams view Ebron. It will certainly bear watching at the combine, though.
As long as Ebron doesn't start taking training tips from Jared Lorenzen, he'll probably be fine.