CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron was selected 10th overall by the Detroit Lions Thursday night in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Ebron is the 23rd overall first-round draft pick in Carolina history and the seventh in the last seven years.
"I'm thrilled for Eric and his family," said head coach Larry Fedora. "Eric is the prototype tight end that the NFL is looking for these days. He can run all the routes. He can catch the ball, make people miss and has the speed to run away from defenders. The Lions are getting a special player and I think his best football is ahead of him."
A native of Greensboro, North Carolina, Ebron set school tight end marks for single-season receptions (62), single-season yards (973), career receptions (112) and career receiving yards (1,805) as a junior in 2013. His 973 receiving yards are an ACC single-season record for tight ends, topping the mark of 871 set by Maryland's Vernon Davis in 2005. A first-team All-ACC selection, he earned first-team All-America honors from ESPN.com. He also was a finalist for the Mackey Award, presented annually to the nation's top tight end.
"Eric flourished in our offense and we were creative in getting the ball to him in space," said Fedora. "He loves playing football and has a lot of fun on the field. I'm looking forward to watching him play for several years in the NFL."
Ebron is the first Carolina tight end picked in the NFL Draft since Ryan Taylor was selected by the Green Bay Packers in 2011. Prior to Ebron, the highest a Tar Heel tight end had been picked was Alge Crumpler, who was picked in the second round (35th overall) by Atlanta in 2001.
Ebron was the first tight end taken in this year's draft. Fedora also coached the first tight end taken in the 2009 draft when the Lions picked Oklahoma State's Brandon Pettigrew.
"Everything this kid does is easy," said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock. "He's one of the best athletes I've ever seen for that size. I was at his pro day and everything is simple. All of a sudden (Detroit QB) Matthew Stafford has multiple weapons."
UNC Tight End Draft History
2014 – Eric Ebron, 1st Round, Detroit (10th overall)
2011 - Ryan Taylor, 7th Round, Green Bay
2009 - Richard Quinn, 2nd Round (64th overall), Denver
2001 - Alge Crumpler, 2nd Round (35th overall), Atlanta
1997 - Freddie Jones, 2nd Round (45th overall), San Diego
1992 - Deems May, 7th Round, San Diego
1986 - Arnold Franklin, 11th Round, Miami
1978 - Brooks Williams, 8th Round, New Orleans
1975 - Charles Waddell, 5th Round, San Diego
1971 - Tony Blanchard, 12th Round, Cleveland
• The Tar Heels had first-round picks in 2008 (Kentwan Balmer, 29th overall), 2009 (Hakeem Nicks, 29th overall), 2011 (Robert Quinn, 14th overall), 2012 (Quinton Coples, 16th overall), 2013 (Jonathan Cooper, 7th overall; Sylvester Williams, 28th overall) and 2014 (Eric Ebron, 10th overall).
• Carolina's Top 10 draft picks are Ken Willard (No. 2 in 1965), Lawrence Taylor (No. 2 in 1981), Peppers (No. 2 in 2002), Ken Huff (No. 3 in 1975), Ryan Sims (No. 6 in 2002), Jonathan Cooper (No. 7 in 2013), Greg Ellis (No. 8 in 1998) and Eric Ebron (No. 10 in 2014).
North Carolina's First-Round Draft Picks (23)
1965 - Ken Willard (RB) - No. 2, San Francisco
1971 - Don McCauley (TB) - No. 22, Baltimore
1975 - Ken Huff (OG) - No. 3, Baltimore
1981 - Lawrence Taylor (LB) - No. 2, New York Giants
1981 - Donnell Thompson (DE) - No. 18, Baltimore
1984 - Brian Blados (OL) - No. 28, Cincinnati
1985 - Ethan Horton (RB/TE) - No. 15, Kansas City
1987 - Harris Barton (OT) - No. 22, San Francisco
1993 - Thomas Smith (CB) - No. 28, Buffalo
1996 - Marcus Jones (DT) - No. 22, Tampa Bay
1998 - Greg Ellis (DE) - No. 8, Dallas
1998 - Brian Simmons (LB) - No. 17, Cincinnati
1998 - Vonnie Holliday (DT) - No. 19, Green Bay
1999 - Ebenzer Ekuban (DE) - No. 20, Dallas
2002 - Julius Peppers (DE) - No. 2, Carolina
2002 - Ryan Sims (DT) - No. 6, Kansas City
2008 - Kentwan Balmer (DT) - No. 29, San Francisco
2009 - Hakeem Nicks (WR) - No. 29, New York Giants
2011 - Robert Quinn (DE) - No. 14, St. Louis
2012 - Quinton Coples (DE) - No. 16, New York Jets
2013 - Jonathan Cooper (OG) - No. 7, Arizona
2013 – Sylvester Williams (DT) – No. 28, Denver
2014 – Eric Ebron (TE) – No. 10, Detroit