LIONS INSIDER

Measuring 6-7-and-a-half, Joseph Fauria is an intriguing prospect at tight end

Posted May 12, 2013

The undrafted rookie made it his mission over the Lions' three-day mini-camp to prove naysayers wrong about his blocking ability

Joseph Fauria had several teams calling both him and his agent at the tail end of the NFL Draft on April 27, trying to secure his services as a preferred undrafted free agent.
Joseph FauriaTE Joseph Fauria (Photo: C. Wywrot/Detroitlions.com)

Despite catching 12 touchdowns last season for UCLA and 20 over his college career, the 6-foot-7-and-a-half tight end wasn't one of the 254 players who heard their names called over the three-day draft.

Some critics leading up to the draft had knocked Fauria's ability to block at the position and others questioned his effort at times.

When it comes to being undrafted though, Fauria says it might have been the best thing that happened to him.

"It's a crazy process. You feel like a pieces of meat, which is awesome," Fauria said of the post draft free agent frenzy. "(You're) bouncing off the walls a little bit but you need to be calm-minded and make sure you make the right decision for yourself.

"It's kind of a luxury, actually. You get to pick which team you're going to be on. Some might say they don't want to go the Midwest, but I feel like this is the best fit for me. I love (tight end) coach (Bobby) Johnson. I love the offense and I think I can get better here."

Fauria will have a good opportunity to make the roster here in Detroit, which he said was part of the reason he signed with Detroit.

Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler are entering the final years of their contracts. The two other tight ends on the roster – Nathan Overbay and Michael Williams – have no NFL game experience, like Fauria.

Over the three-day rookie mini-camp this weekend in Allen Park, Fauria made a number of terrific catches and was a go-to target for quarterbacks Alex Carder and John Laub.

"Good hands and just a giant wing span," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of Fauria. "A lot of times he was covered, but he was still open just because he's so long and he has such a big catching radius. He has very soft hands for a big guy.

"There's other things that he needs to work on also, just being more precise with routes and blocking and things like that. But he can certainly flash in the passing game.

"It will be interesting to see his match-ups. Our tight ends have some height, you know 6-7-and-a-half, 6-5-and-a-half (Williams), Pettigrew's over 6-5, Scheffler's 6-5, Nathan Overbay is a shade under 6-5. He's the shortest guy in that bunch, so there's a lot of height. Having those big targets helps our quarterback."

Fauria's abilities as a blocker is really the biggest criticism at this point. He does have a slim frame at 255 pounds, but he also wasn't asked to do much blocking at UCLA.

"I don't want to complain too much but I think it came down to it not really being asked of me (at UCLA) when I was lined up as a receiver," he said. "But right now, I'm trying to get better as much as possible.

"Right now I'm putting all the naysayers aside and (I'm going to) work my tush off and block my butt off, too."

The Lions are looking for more big plays from the tight end position in 2013 and Fauria has shown, both in college and during his first weekend here in Allen Park, that he can make plays.

"We're trying to get as many good players (at tight end) that fit a scheme as we can," Schwartz said. "Contract status (of Pettigrew and Scheffler) and things like that don't even enter the equation at this point. We're just trying to put as many good players as we can on the field.

"We have a good feel for both of those guys (Williams and Fauria). One guy we drafted late, the other guy was a priority for us signing as a free agent. Both of them have a little different skill set and we think that they might be able to help in some way."

Fauria looks like he might be able to provide that punch down the field.