We'll never know if the Detroit Lions would go in a different direction with the No. 10 overall pick in 2014 draft or not if given a second chance. All we know now is that their offense will flourish or flat line, depending on the progress of tight end Eric Ebron.
The North Carolina product was thought of as a sure thing, but with Odell Beckham going two picks later, the team has been on the backpedal ever since, doing their best to defend a player that played in just 13 games and caught just 25 passes.
"I see a lot more discipline, professional, motivated, realistic guy than what I saw last year," the team's general manager, Martin Mayhew, told the Detroit Free Press. "And I think he had some youth and exuberance last year that kind of overcame a lot of really common sense sometimes.
"I think now he knows what's at stake, he knows what he has to do to be a great pro, and I see everything he has to do to be a great pro. This entire offseason he's been working his butt off to be better than he was last year, and I think he will be."
After losing Ndamukong Suh in free agency, the Lions tried to plug a gap quickly with the Haloti Ngata deal. Unfortunately for them, they didn't have the luxury of simply overloading a strength.
Imagine, for example, if Beckham could play the slot in an offense that already had Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate on the outside. For a moment, at least in the Giants' draft room, that was a fear. The team was privately worried that Detroit was a surprise top 10 contender for the wideout on draft day.
Since that moment, Ebron has been held to an unrealistic standard. Tight ends in the NFL are much more difficult to develop, but as Ebron comes into his own, he'll be judged far more harshly due to the circumstances.
The latest Around The NFL Podcast debates whose stock is up and whose stock is down after the first week of training camp.