The Detroit Lions are swelling with talent at the tight end position. Swelling enough that last years rookie sensation, Joseph Fauria could be hearing his name amongst the constantly swirling NFL trade rumors.
Heading into the 2013 NFL season, Joseph Fauria joined the Lions as an undrafted free agent out of UCLA. Little was known about Fauria other than he had great size at 6’7″ and was the nephew of former New England Patriots tight end, Christian Fauria. It didn’t take long however for Fauria to become a household name amongst Lions fans.
Fauria played in all 16 games for the Lions last year, grabbing 18 catches for 207 yards along the way. What Fauria became best known for however, was catching touchdowns (seven total) and his celebrations that followed.
In the offseason the Lions resigned fellow tight end, Brandon Pettigrew. Pettigrew is a much better run blocker than Fauria and it appeared that the Lions were content to move forward with the combo that had worked well the year prior.
Then came the 2014 NFL Draft.
The Lions surprised many by using the tenth overall pick on University of North Carolina tight end, Eric Ebron. Not only was Ebron the best available player on the board when Detroit went on the clock, but he appears to be a perfect fit for new offensive coordinator, Joe Lombardi’s style of offense.
With the addition of Ebron to an already deep position at tight end the Lions have already moved last years seventh round pick, Michael Williams over to left tackle.
Now were left wondering, is there room for Fauria in the Lions offensive plans?
Lions reporter Mike Rothstein of ESPN.com thinks there is.
“Fauria, for now, is mostly a red zone threat. His size, his vertical and his extremely good hands make him a valuable target in the end zone for Matthew Stafford. Using him in that way also takes some pressure off of Calvin Johnson in the red zone. Fauria’s goal is to be used more as a full-field tight end, but that did not materialize in his rookie year all that often. It looked like it would have this season, but the drafting of Eric Ebron changed that to an extent. His role is still somewhat to be determined in 2014, but he remains a red zone threat. If he can improve his blocking, he’ll likely see even more time.”
Fauria has remained very upbeat and professional throughout the situation. He does however realize that seven touchdowns may be harder to come by this year.
“I think it fits perfectly,” he said. “Guys in the New Orleans offense thrived in this offense, like Jimmy Graham and guys like Ben Watson. So this is tight end friendly, tight end pass-catchingfriendly. It gives everybody a chance to make some plays.”
Since a trade is unlikely, Fauria may see his action limited to only redzone opportunities this season, pending any injuries.
One major factor that he has in his advantage however, is the trust that has developed between himself and Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.