Eric Ebron: ďMy goals are set high. Iím going to try and go for Rookie of the Year." (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
Brooklyn Ė Lions rookie Eric Ebron was at Michigan International Speedway Sunday enjoying his first Sprint Cup race while also giving instructions to the drivers to start their engines as the grand marshal for the Quicken Loans 400.
Ebron, drafted No. 10 overall in the first-round by the Lions, got his introduction to the Sprint Cup series during his college days at North Carolina when he was a passenger in a Cup car at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Ebron has gained some experience with the Lions in OTA (organized team activities) and signed a $12.25 million contract Friday.
"I havenít had one chance to actually sit down and think about my life and how quickly it just evolved in like a blink of an eye,Ē Ebron said. "I'll probably get that chance when Iím back home in North Carolina laying on my fianceís bed because I donít have a place in North Carolina anymore. No, thatís probably my only chance to get back and enjoy everything thatís happening.Ē
Ebron, 21, a 6-foot-4, 245-pound tight end with 4.6 speed, said he recently purchased a new Dodge Challenger and inking his deal has relieved pressure so he can put all of his focus on learning the offense and playbook to get ready for the season.
When asked who is Eric Ebron, he replied: ďIím a fun guy. I love to have fun and get the fans who have been true and loyal and the fans who have not been true and loyal involved into the game to make them true, loyal fans.
"My excitement to the game is like nobody elseís. Iím not a guy that celebrates after everything, but you can just see how intense and how passionate I am when I play football. But, outside of football youíll see nothing like it, Iím just like a big old teddy bear.Ē
Ebronís goals for his rookie year? The Lions are hoping Ebron gives their offense the same type of threat and production All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham has given the Saints.
ďMy goals are set high,Ē Ebron said. ďIím going to try and go for Rookie of the Year and if it happens, it happens. I believe that I can do it. Matt (quarterback Stafford) believes I can do it. The coaches believe I can do it. My coach right now (offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi), heís saying our goal this year is to make it to the Pro Bowl your rookie year and I was like ĎYour goals are my goals.í
ďHopefully, I will be able to free up Calvin Johnson a little bit, make it a little easier for Matt to distribute the ball a little bit more, just do whatever I can to help us win.Ē
When asked what the biggest transition is from college to the NFL, Ebron replied: ďJust the mental aspect of football. I do a lot of things that is more natural to me, my athleticism, my ability to do the things that I do which makes it easier for me to be coached.
ďOnce I fully and completely understand the playbook Iíll be ready to go. If we have a really long day, Iíll probably put in an hour or an hour and a half (learning playbook). In college we really didnít have a playbook. We were a spread offense, pure hand signals, and formations were all hand signals. Now, itís paragraphs of words. By the time youíve figured out where youíre supposed to line up youíve forgot the play and by the time you remember the play, the ballís snapped so itís rough. Iíve gotten it down better and better each day and the coaches have been more and more proud of me.Ē