2016 Detroit Lions NFL Preview – Part 4 – Tight Ends

In today’s NFL, the tight end position has more importance than ever before in the history of the league. With great athletes such as Rob Gronkowski, Tyler Eifert & Jason Witten showing that a tight end can be a #1 focal point for an offense and a position that defense have to respect, the Lions knew that they had to make sure their tight end position is solid for quarterback Matthew Stafford to be successful in the passing game.

The Lions have – on paper – two of the better tight ends in the NFL in Eric Ebron & Brandon Pettigrew. Ebron is a solid pass blocker and a great natural athlete. He can catch the ball well & doesn’t have as many drops as Pettigrew has had over the years. Pettigrew has been hampered by injuries over the last two seasons, which will make Ebron a major component in the offense in this being his third year out of North Carolina.

Along with Ebron & Pettigrew, Tim Wright came on last year and make some big plays for the Lions. Wright was a great red zone threat & did provide another solid receiving option for Stafford & took some pressure off of the running game. No matter who is the main starter (we presume will be Ebron taking many of the offensive snaps), they have to be able to bring in 60 – 65 receptions this year with the absence of Calvin Johnson. Ebron has the ability to go down field, not so much take the top of the defense, but create great space 20-25 yards downfield to be a big, solid target for Stafford to have a #1 option or a good checkdown as a 4th or 5th receiver after going through progressions.

The Lions were criticized last year for not going to Ebron more when the offense was sputtering out of control a bit & it seemed as though Stafford was always trying to force the ball to everyone else but Ebron when teams were playing the Lions straight up after Johnson started to have some foot & knee issues through the midpoint of the season. Those rumblings should be very quiet in 2016 as Stafford and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter won’t have an option but to make Ebron a major point in the passing game.

We believe the Lions do have a solid core at the tight end positon – one of the main areas on the roster that didn’t need a ton of tweaking in the offseason. The goal for the tight ends on the roster is to be more consistent across the board. Much of the staff here at DraftKingsMaster were big fans of a tight end that was here in 2013-2014 named Joseph Fauria from UCLA. Fauria was an outstanding weapon in the red zone & was a big reason why the Lions did end up going to the playoffs against the Cowboys. He was a big target & had the stature of Gronkowski. Don’t be surprised if the Lions go back for Fauria to sign him as a free agent ┬áif the Pettigrew/Tim Wright experiments don’t work during training camp or the first few weeks of the season.

 

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