Detroit Lions: A tight end for every round

16 Dec 2001: Tight End David Sloan (Getty Images)
16 Dec 2001: Tight End David Sloan (Getty Images) /
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16 Dec 2001: Tight End David Sloan. Getty Images
16 Dec 2001: Tight End David Sloan. Getty Images /

The Detroit Lions created a hole in their roster that they have yet to fill. If the team is looking for a tight end in the draft, these are the best options.

When the Detroit Lions cut tight end, Eric Ebron, they created a vacuum in their receiving corp. They have not yet filled that gap going into the draft.  The Lions only returning tight end is 2016 fourth-round draft pick, Michael Roberts. Roberts is a blocking tight end by trade. He is certainly not a viable replacement in Ebron’s previous role with the team. They have signed tight ends, but none of them have much of a history as a receiver.

The Lions have added Veteran tight ends Levine Toilolo and Luke Willson to their roster. Ebron made 53 receptions last year for the Lions. If you combine both of the Lions free agent additions receptions over the last two seasons they beat that number by one. To be fair, Willson has been Jimmy Graham‘s backup for the last three years. Toilolo, however, gets open only when the defense completely ignores his existence.

Both of the Lions free agent additions are also on one-year contracts. Bob Quinn has shown that even a player who performs well might not come back to Detroit. Darren Fells came to the Lions on a similar one-year “show me” deal. He used his time with the Lions to create demand for his services. Fells went to Cleveland, where he signed a three-year 12 million dollar contract shortly after free agency opened. Wilson and Toilolo are both undoubtedly looking at that contract and salivating.

What those one-year contracts mean is that even if those players are successful they might not be Lions in 2017. Tight ends take a little time to develop. few rookie tight ends come out of the box ready to play significant roles in the NFL. The position is completely different in the NCAA than the NFL for most.

I do not expect the Lions to select a tight end high.  They have not met with a player likely to be selected before the fifth round. There are, however, some solid options if they decide to do so. Here is one tight end that meets the Lions needs in each round of the upcoming NFL draft. If you’d rather just see a list than read through the analysis, there’s a recap at the end.