The Detroit Lions need second-year tight end Michael Roberts to step up his game in 2018. And the team is putting pressure on him to do so.
The Detroit Lions will look like a different team in 2018. And coming off three winning seasons in the past four years, that’s not necessarily a good thing. But on paper at least, the Lions appear to have upgraded themselves. But that really depends on how you feel about new head coach Matt Patricia.
Offensively, the Lions should be better in all but one area. Detroit’s passing game should stay intact as all the major players have returned, including offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. The offensive line should get a boost with 2018 first round Frank Ragnow stepping in at either center or left guard to solidify the offensive line.
The Lions backfield is significantly better with the additions of running backs LeGarrette Blount and rookie Kerryon Johnson. Both of whom are expected to get the bulk of the carries in Detroit this upcoming season.
Defensively, Detroit has lost a couple playmakers in defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and linebacker Tahir Whitehead. But it still has plenty of big names like defensive end Ziggy Ansah, Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay and last year’s first round pick, linebacker Jarrad Davis. But the Lions defensive success really falls in the hands of Patricia, whose exotic schemes helped to led the New England Patroits to multiple Super Bowls.
The one area where the Lions seem ill-prepared is at tight end. Detroit released longtime draft disappointment Eric Ebron this offseason. And the team lost Darren Fells to the Cleveland Browns via free agency. That left the Motor City without their two top tight ends from last season.
In response, Detroit signed veterans Luke Willson and Levine Toilolo. Both tight ends are considered better blockers than receivers. Therefore, the onus of the Lions’ receiving hope seems to have fallen to second-year tight end Michael Roberts.
The fourth round selection out of Toledo was a one-year wonder coming out of college, exploding for 45 receptions for 533 yards and 16 touchdowns his senior season. During his first year with the Lions, Robert recorded just four receptions. Now, the 24-year old is the favorite to be Detroit’s top receiving threat at his position.
"“We’re putting pressure on [Roberts] that he needs to step up to being a pro,” tight ends coach Chris White told the Detroit News. “We’ve told him how important he is to our success, and there’s a lot of people that are counting on him. Watching (Willson) and (Toilolo) go about their daily business is really helping him. He’s just got to figure out the daily grind, making one little improvement each day.”"
Although many Detroit Lions’ fans were glad to be done with Eric Ebron, his void could be an issue for the Motor City in 2018. Although early indications out of OTA’s suggest Michael Roberts is responding well to the pressure of a possible starting role in Detroit, trusting the position to a second-year player with four career receptions under his belt is risky at best. Perhaps the Lions will look again to free agency if Roberts fails to impress come training camp.