The last tight end to be selected in the top 10 of the NFL Draft was Vernon Davis, whom the San Francisco 49ers chose with the sixth overall pick in 2006.
The next tight end to crack the top 10 could well be the player who shattered Davis’s collegiate records last season, Eric Ebron.
Ebron is the undisputed No. 1 tight end prospect in this year’s draft. In his final season at North Carolina, he passed Davis for the most receiving yards (895) in a season by a tight end in ACC history. (See how a pair of 2013 first-rounders from UNC trained for the NFL.)
The tight end position has evolved since Davis flew off the board in 2006. The emergence of superstar players Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski has changed the way NFL teams use and value tight ends. That's why Ebron could land in the top 10, where a team such as the Buffalo Bills (9th overall) could snatch him and provide their second-year QB, E.J. Manuel, with a legitimate weapon for the foreseeable future.
Ebron fits the Vernon Davis mold. At the NFL Combine, he measured 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds, similar to Davis, who checked in at 6-foot-3 and 254 pounds at the annual scouting event eight years ago. (See how Ebron and others improved their draft stock at the NFL Combine.)
It’s not just Ebron’s size-speed combo that elicits comparisons to Davis. Ebron models his game after the 49ers tight end. He says, “I emulate Vernon Davis in the way he runs routes, the way he blocks. I try to do that—not just mimic him—but put it into my own style of play.”
On his hopes and aspirations for the NFL, Ebron says, “It’s going to be spectacular. I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing some amazing things, so just watch it. Pay attention.”