That committee could be served by one of their tight ends, most of whom have had standout training camps thus far. Rookie T.J. Hockenson and free agent signee Jesse James are roster locks at the position and figure to have critical roles on offense this season. After them is where it begins to get interesting within the unit.
Logan Thomas, the converted quarterback, has also made solid progress this offseason at tight end, and is a standout special teamer. Any fullback on an NFL roster will need to play a significant role on special teams to justify a roster spot, and Bawden is no exception. Thomas though, has scant experience as a lead blocker on offense.
The key piece to the puzzle may be seventh round selection Isaac Nauta. The rookie tight end performed poorly at this year’s scouting combine, causing his draft stock to plummet. However, despite questions about his athleticism and upside, the Lions liked his ability to get open, and his hands; they made him their penultimate selection in April.
It was looked at by some as a curious pick, considering the additions of Hockenson and James, and their level of confidence in Thomas. Nauta though, has so far validated the Lions’ belief in him with strong summer performances. This includes an acrobatic touchdown reception in tight coverage in Friday night’s team scrimmage at Ford Field, as per MLive’s Kyle Meinke.
Nauta will be one to watch during the Lions’ preseason slate. With Hockenson and James’ snaps likely minimized in those games due to their prominent roles this season, Nauta could continue to get opportunities to show that he belongs on the 53-man roster come September. Could he also surpass Thomas in the pecking order?