Friday, May 2, 2014
Polian: Steelers should steer clear of Ebron
By Scott Brown
PITTSBURGH -- Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay will critique draft picks that are made in less than a week. The ESPN analysts took their own respective turns in the hot seat Thursday night on ESPN2.
The two engaged in a head-to-head, three-round mock draft with Kiper picking for teams with even-numbered draft picks and McShay picking for those with odd-numbered picks. Their selections were followed by analysis from former NFL general manager Bill Polian and former NFL director of pro personnel Louis Riddick.
And Polian didn't opt for subtlety after McShay picked North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron for the Steelers at No. 15 overall.
"He's a Pittsburgh Steeler and he doesn't block. That doesn't compute," Polian, a six-time NFL Executive of the Year, said of Ebron. "I don't think he's ready to play in the NFL right now. I think he's too immature. I don't think his feet are firmly planted on the ground. Yeah, he has ability but that only gets you so far."
Ebron may be one of the more polarizing players in the draft.
The 6-foot-4, 250-pounder is the best tight end in the draft and an undeniable talent. Ebron, who caught 62 passes for 973 yards in his final season at North Carolina, has the size and athleticism to create mismatches.
And he is part of the new wave of tight ends who have become such a commodity because of their ability to put stress on opposing defenses.
Ebron would give quarterback Ben Roethlisberger a tall target, and he would add a pass-catcher to a group that doesn't have a reliable one after veteran Heath Miller.
But as a blocker he can most diplomatically be described as a work in progress.
Or, as McShay said recently, “He’s a buffet blocker if you will. He kind of picks and chooses when he wants to get interested. But what he does well it’s just hard to find guys that can do it at the level that he does as far as stretching the field vertically and creating after the catch.”
Ebron may be too much of a gamble for the Steelers to pick at No. 15, especially since they have more pressing needs. McShay picked him for the Steelers with Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard off the board though with every other cornerback still available.
Riddick said he would have taken a cornerback for the Steelers, and he is especially high on Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller. Polian added of Ebron, "I would not risk this guy in a Pittsburgh offense that requires you to block."
As for the Steelers' other two picks, Kiper took LSU wide receiver Jarvis Landry for them in the second round (No. 46 overall). McShay picked Clemson cornerback Bashaud Breeland for the Steelers in the third round (No. 97 overall).