Detroit Lions: First round tight end suddenly a possibility?
With the release of tight end Eric Ebron, the Detroit Lions could look to select the top tight end in the upcoming draft class with their first round pick.
With the release of former first round selection tight end Eric Ebron on Wednesday, the Detroit Lions finally put an end to one of the biggest draft mistakes in franchise history. Although the move will save the Lions over $8 million, it also leaves the team with a massive void to fill.
The early favorite to do so was veteran tight end Darren Fells. Unfortunately, Fells was also a free agent and has now agreed to terms with the Cleveland Browns on a three-year, $12 million deal. Suddenly, tight end is a major need in Detroit.
Last year’s fourth round selection, tight end Michael Roberts, should be the biggest benefactor based on this latest news. He’s surely the favorite over virtual unknowns Brandon Barnes and Hakeem Valles. But Roberts also ended last season on a sour note, sleeping through and missing team meetings prior to the team’s final game. Ending the year on suspension doesn’t bode well for his future in Detroit.
Lions’ general manager Bob Quinn could easily look to free agency to fill this void. Julius Thomas, Tyler Eifert and Brent Celek are just some of the bigger names available at the tight end position right now (keep checking your clock). But even adding a veteran doesn’t mean the Lions wouldn’t turn to the draft to find themselves a future playmaker.
With the 20th overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Lions have to consider getting themselves the top prospect at the tight end position. That player appears to be the Gronk-like 6-foot-5, 256 pound Dallas Goedert out of South Dakota State.
According to Dane Brugler of NFLdraftscout.com, Goedert is the highest rated tight end available and the 28th best overall player in this upcoming class.
"“Goedert needs time to refine his routes and blocking, but those deficiencies are based more inexperience rather than inability,” wrote Brugler. “His physical skill-set and dependable ball skills make him the top tight end option in this class.”"
Next: Lions must show patience in 2018 free agent market
Although it seems unlikely the Detroit Lions would elect to choose another tight end this high in the NFL draft, it at least has to be a consideration. Especially if the Lions don’t find a starting caliber veteran via free agency.
Some other prospective tight ends Detroit might look to draft are South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst, Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews and Penn State’s Mike Gesicki. Any of these three rookies could be solid Day Two picks for the Lions.