Eric Ebron: My play 'hasn't been the best' for Lions

Here's a sign that the NFL season is flying by: We're already at the point on the 2017 football calendar where Lions tight end Eric Ebron is having to defend his numbers (13 catches, 102 yards, 1 touchdown).

"It hasn't been the best," Ebron told the Detroit Free Press. "But then again, it's early in the season and I can't be down upon myself. ... Ten games left and just go out there and play the rest of these 10 games and hopefully it all turns around for the offense entirely because not only my performance but all of us need to get it together and get it going."

To be clear, this is not a jab at Ebron -- it's more about the unending cycle of unrealizable expectations the draft process creates. At what point do we stop automatically associating draft status with future production? The Lions took a major chance on the athletic but raw tight end out of North Carolina in 2014 and picked him one spot ahead of Taylor Lewan, two spots ahead of Odell Beckham and three spots ahead of Aaron Donald and yet, this, sort of, remains Ebron's problem.

During his best season in Detroit, Ebron was targeted 85 times for 61 catches (71.8 catch rate), 711 yards and one touchdown. This season, he's on pace for much less than that. Is it his fault? Ebron is the fourth-most targeted player on the roster and just one target ahead of wide receiver T.J. Jones. Once promising rookie Kenny Golladay returns from a hamstring injury, Ebron's numbers could be sliced even thinner.

He's playing for a different general manager and offensive coordinator than the one he was drafted under and really, a different offense since the departure of Calvin Johnson. The Free Press suggested two weeks ago that the Lions deal Ebron and give him the chance to succeed elsewhere. It might be refreshing for Ebron to no longer be looked at as the person we have instead of Odell Beckham and instead what he is: An athletic tight end who can create mismatches and sometimes capitalize on them.