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TWENTYMAN: Why picking up Ebron's option makes sense

The Detroit Lions and general manager Bob Quinn have made the decision to pick up the fifth-year option on tight end Eric Ebron's rookie contract.

"I spoke to Eric this morning early before he was in for workouts, had a good talk with Eric," Quinn told 97.1 Tuesday morning. "We're excited to do that for him.

"This is something we've thought about and talked about internally here obviously since the end of the season. I kind of had my mind made up probably last week at some point, but I wanted to get through the draft and see. You never know what can happen in the draft and what kind of players would slip to you."

Ebron came into the league with high expectations placed on his shoulders after being the No. 10 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

After a slow start as a rookie – which isn't uncommon for that position – Ebron has steadily improved year over year, and recorded a 61-catch, 711-yard season in 2016. His receptions ranked 10th among all tight ends and his yards eighth.

The tag will put Ebron roughly in line with the market for a top tight end based on this year's free agency numbers and his production last season.

The other side of the coin is that Detroit doesn't have another player with Ebron's skillset at the position on the roster. He's an athletic tight end that's quickly becoming a mismatch for just about every linebacker and safety in the league.

Veteran Darren Fells, who the team signed via free agency this offseason, and the newly drafted Michael Roberts, have a different skillset than Ebron. They're more in-line tight ends with bigger builds.

With Ebron, the Lions can also put him in the slot or even flank him out wide, which we saw at times last season.

Ebron still has some improving to do, especially when it comes to cleaning up the team-leading seven drops he had last season, but he's improved every year he's been in the league. There's no reason to think he won't be better in 2017 than he was in 2016.

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