Ex-NFL scout: Eric Ebron could be better than Jimmy Graham

Eric Ebron's combination of size and athleticism has inspired comparisons to the best of the NFL's new breed of tight ends. In Bucky Brooks' positional rankings for the 2014 NFL Draft, in which he ranks Ebron as his No. 1 tight end, he notes that several scouts view Ebron as a "Jimmy Graham-like difference maker in the passing game," referring to the Saints' two-time Pro Bowler.

Former NFL scout Russ Lande is another observer who sees Graham as an apt comparison for Ebron, but Lande takes the comparison one step further -- he believes Ebron's ceiling exceeds that of Graham.

"He is the best tight-end prospect I have evaluated since Kellen Winslow Jr.," Lande said. "Although many are projecting that teams like the Ravens and Jets will be interested in him, a number of NFL people I've spoken with recently believe he will be selected in the top 12, because he is a rare talent who could be better than Jimmy Graham."

Ebron (6-foot-3, 250 pounds) recently told College Football 24/7 that his athleticism is what sets him apart from two other top tight-end prospects, Jace Amaro and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. But Ebron's physical gifts aren't the only reason Lande rates him so highly.

"There are many athletic tight ends playing college football, but few show the courage and fearlessness to catch passes in traffic," he said. "It is interesting that for a player who doesn't always maintain concentration on the field, (Ebron) does consistently catch passes in traffic, take hard hits after the catch and hold onto the ball."

Lande also cites Ebron's "game-changing plays running after the catch" and believes he can be "a punishing blocker when he wants to."

Lande said he believes the importance of tight ends in today's game, typified by stars such as Graham, makes Ebron worthy of a top-10 pick, something Brooks and College Football 24/7's Chase Goodbread agree with; both have Ebron projected as the No. 9 pick, to Buffalo.

The Bills and the Detroit Lions, who have the No. 10 pick, have scheduled visits with Ebron, along with the Ravens and Panthers. Ebron can expect to see representatives from those teams Tuesday, when he participates in North Carolina's pro day.

Follow College Football 24/7 on Twitter _@NFLCFB_.

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