Can Eric Ebron be the next great Pittsburgh Steelers tight end?

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) Eric Ebron
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) Eric Ebron /

Can the talented tight end get his career back on track with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2020?

There wasn’t a ton of money spent by the Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency this year. However, the Steelers didn’t have a problem shelling out a few extra bucks when it came to upgrading their current group of tight ends.

After two seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, Eric Ebron agreed to a two-year, $12 million contract with Pittsburgh in March. Ebron is coming off a season that was hampered by an ankle injury, but his 2018 campaign with the Colts did see him haul in a total of 13 touchdowns.

The Steelers haven’t received a ton production from their tight ends since Heath Miller retired in 2016. With the addition of Ebron though, Pittsburgh might actually be able to implement more involvement from the tight end position for the first time in a while.

How good can Eric Ebron be for the Pittsburgh Steelers?

We mentioned previously that Ebron is coming off a 2019 season which was heavily impacted by a nagging ankle injury that ultimately resulted in him being placed on injured reserve last November. The tight end reportedly dealt with his ankle injury for most of the year according to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport and it just got to a point where he just couldn’t endure the pain anymore.

Since signing with the Steelers though, Ebron has indicated that his ankle issues are behind him and he should be more than ready to produce for the black and gold in 2020.

So what can Pittsburgh expect from their new tight end during the upcoming season?

For starters, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is getting a great weapon to have in the red zone. Of Ebron’s 29 career touchdowns, 79 percent of them have come when his offense is 20 yards away from the end zone or closer.

For a team like Pittsburgh who ranked dead-last in red zone scoring percentage last season, their new tight end’s presence on the field will be gladly welcomed. The Steelers were No. 1 in this category in 2018, so they will be hoping to get back to something closer to this during the upcoming season.

Pittsburgh struggled mightily on third down last year and this is something that Ebron can also help improve. Of his 77 career catches on third-down plays, 76.6 percent of them resulted in a first down.

With Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown both no longer on the Steelers roster, Ebron should be able to be among the most targeted offensive players for the team in 2020.

The last time Roethlisberger was on the field for a full season (2018), tight end Vance McDonald ended up with the third-most receiving targets of any Pittsburgh player and many would agree that Ebron is a much better tight end than McDonald.

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If both he and his quarterback can remain healthy in 2020, Ebron has a chance to be one of the most productive tight ends to put on a Steelers uniform since Miller last took the field.