To no one's surprise, North Carolina coach Larry Fedora announced Monday that junior tight end Eric Ebron would leave early for the NFL draft.
Ebron (6-foot-4, 245 pounds) is perhaps the most physically gifted tight end in the nation. He leads UNC with 50 receptions for 774 yards and has three TD catches.
He definitely will be in the mix as to which tight end goes first in the 2014 draft.
NFL Media draft analyst Bucky Brooks thinks Ebron is the most explosive playmaker at the position. "I can see him earning a top-20 grade on most draft boards based on his talent, athleticism and impact potential," Brooks said.
Fellow NFL Media draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said Ebron "definitely has first-round ability," calling him "explosive, athletic and productive."
Brooks said Ebron is the type of "prototypical athletic tight end that's taking over the NFL. He has outstanding physical dimensions and tremendous athleticism that makes him nearly impossible to defend on the perimeter. He can blow past linebackers on vertical routes or post up smaller defensive backs on short and intermediate passes between the hashes."
Ebron has been clocked as fast as 4.57 seconds in the 40-yard dash, and during summer camp, he said his size-speed mix "should be illegal." Ebron can get deep and is a more-than-willing blocker. Inconsistency had been an issue.
After serving as a reserve as a true freshman in 2011, Ebron became a starter in 2012 and was the most productive tight end in the ACC, with 40 receptions for 625 yards and four TDs.
This season, his best performance came in a loss to Miami. He had eight catches for 199 yards and a TD. He also had a 100-yard day in a loss to Georgia Tech. Ebron has had seven games this season with at least four catches and four with at least six receptions.