Detroit Lions take flier on receiving tight end with upside

Detroit Lions. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Lions are in need of a receiving tight end who can be a redzone target for quarterback Matthew Stafford. Could Wes Saxton be the answer?

After four years of suffering under the tenure of former first round pick Eric Ebron, the Detroit Lions finally parted ways with the inconsistent tight end earlier this offseason. But his exodus has left a void that the Lions are still looking to fill.

2017 fourth round selection Michael Roberts along with free agent signings Luke Willson and Levine Toilolo are all competing for the vacant starting role at tight end. Unfortunately, only Roberts is considered to be a true receiving tight end rather than a blocker.

Although it appears both Roberts and Willson have emerged during OTA’s as top candidates to be the Lions’ main receiving threat at tight end, Detroit is clearly still open to finding some untapped talent to fill the depth chart.

On Monday, the Lions signed free agent Wes Saxton. Since entering the league in 2015 as a undrafted rookie free agent out of South Alabama, Saxton has played with the Washington Redskins, New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills.

Yet, the 24-year old has only recorded a single regular season game appearance, which was during his rookie season. But by doing so, Saxton became the first player out of the University of South Alabama to ever play in the NFL. He was also a high school teammate of current Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston.

Coming out of college, the 6-foot-4, 248 pound Saxton was a stellar athlete. And he surprised scouts by posting the second highest 40-yard dash (4.65) by a tight end during the 2015 Scouting Combine. Saxton also ranked third in both the vertical (36.0 inches) and broad jump (119 inches).

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During his three seasons at South Alabama, Wes Saxton recorded 96 receptions for 1,126 yards and one touchdown. Although Saxton is far from a lock to make the roster in Detroit, the Lions have taken a flier on a primary receiving tight end with upside and excellent traits to help bring in some more competition at the position. I fully expect the Motor City to continue to churn their roster in the next few months, looking for a hidden gem or two in free agency.