Here at SideLion Report, we will be previewing a number of potential draftees who could be Detroit Lions very soon. This week, we look at TE Zach Gentry.
It’s crazy to see how the Detroit Lions receiving core has changed all year. Once viewed as a top unit in the league, the departure of Golden Tate and the lack of presence at tight end proves their offense has lost a step, as seen by quarterback Matthew Stafford‘s dip in passing numbers this past season.
There are obviously more than one reason why Stafford showed a bit a regression this past season, with age and the pitiful playcalling of former offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter both being partially to blame.
One thing that can help Stafford avoid dipping again this upcoming is adding a few new weapons in the passing game in the draft, like a tall tight end with a huge catch radius to collect throws over the middle and be a target in the red zone.
Tight end Zach Gentry can be that tall tight end in Detroit. His recent measureables at the combine prove that he’s a big tight end even by NFL standards, being that he was listed at over 6-foot-8, 265 pounds, 33 inch arms and a 6-foot-8 wingspan.
General manager Bob Quinn made comments at the beginning of the combine saying that this year’s crop of offensive linemen, wide receivers, and tight ends is very deep.
Unlike T.J. Hockenson, who we covered a few weeks back in his own draft profile, Gentry will likely not be a first-round draft pick. He’s slotted to be picked towards the middle of the draft, meaning the Lions could select an elite pass rusher with their first round pick knowing they can draft Gentry a few days later.
A former high school quarterback, Gentry was converted to tight end early on in his career at the University of Michigan. Instead of throwing a pity party for himself in his new role, he thrived in it, catching 49 passes for over 800 yards and four touchdowns in his two years catching passes.
Being that he is the size of an NBA power forward, Gentry excels at contested catches. After all those years playing with wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Lions fans know that Stafford loves throwing up jump balls in traffic, so hopefully Gentry can help catch a few of them.
Despite only playing tight end for two years in college, Gentry excels at route running, showing versatility as a threat down the seams and proving to have great hands to go along with a great catch radius.
He shows the ability to do something that a lot of college tight ends can’t do, and that’s turn up the field and make defenders miss in open space. Gentry showed that ability in games this season, turning upfield and earning YAC while showing a competitive toughness that can’t exactly be taught.
Being that he is a former quarterback himself, Gentry shows a high football IQ. He knows where tight ends need to be on the field and shows a great memory for running routes, which will be more than helpful at the professional level.
While he doesn’t have the first round upside of Iowa tight ends like Hockenson and Noah Fant, these highlights speak for themselves. Gentry has a innate ability to get upfield and make defenders miss, and his ability to excel both up the seam and along the sideline after a catching an out route can translate into success at the professional level.
Gentry offers the Detroit Lions’ flexibility, as he allows them to draft a high-upside defensive player with their first or second round pick, knowing that they have a 6-foot-8 wolverine who can be Matthew Stafford’s safety blanket waiting for them in the fourth round.