Detroit Lions at the bottom of the NFC North tight end power rankings

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The Detroit Lions have reportedly signed TE Luke Willson to a free agent contract.
The Detroit Lions have reportedly signed TE Luke Willson to a free agent contract. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr /Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions tight ends

The Detroit Lions took a major step back in terms of their tight end group. Eric Ebron and Darren Fells, the team’s two main contributors at the position in 2017 are gone.

They have been replaced by former Seattle Seahawks backup Luke Willson, and former Atlanta Falcons disappointment Levine Toilolo. Michael Roberts, the team’s fifth-round draft pick in the 2017 draft rounds out the group.

The Lions do not have a legitimate receiving threat at the position. Say what you want about Ebron, he was dangerous at times. Willson is a significant downgrade in that regard. He has never been a full-time starter in the NFL, but he will get the opportunity to take that role in Detroit.

During stretches for the Seahawks, Willson has shown potential. Serving primarily as a blocking tight end nearly half of Willson’s targets have come on first and ten. He has converted 39% of those for first downs.

Toilolo is a blocker only. He is about as dangerous as a wet noodle in the passing game. He is incredibly slow, and his hands are not great. Toilolo is on the team as insulation against Roberts not developing.

The Lions are planning to expand Roberts’ role greatly in 2018. He was a great red zone target in college, and the team is hoping he will transition to the same role in his second year as a pro. His rookie season was a bit of a disappointment, however. Roberts tallied only four catches for 46 yards and no touchdowns.

The Lions tight end group is weak. They should be reasonably proficient at blocking, but their participation in through the air will be minimal. Because of that lack of balance, they are the number four tight end group in the NFC North.