Training Camp Preview: tight ends

Posted Jul 24, 2014

The Lions added a huge weapon in Eric Ebron and now have three tight ends with very distinct skill sets.

On the roster: Brandon Pettigrew, Eric Ebron, Joseph Fauria, Jacob Maxwell and Jordan Thompson

Key losses: None

Making the cut: Pettigrew, Ebron and Fauria

On the bubble: Maxwell and Thompson

2013 Stats
Brandon Pettigrew 14 41 416 10.1 2
Joseph Fauria 16 18 207 11.5 7
*Eric Ebron 13 62 973 15.7 3
*Jacob Maxwell 13 12 158 13.2 2
+Jordan Thompson 0 0 0 0.0 0
*college statistics       +did not play in 2013

Twentyman’s take: Things are pretty cut and dry at the tight end position for the Detroit Lions. Ebron is the playmaker, Pettigrew can do it all and Fauria is a terrific red zone weapon.

Eric EbronTE Eric Ebron (Photo: Detroit Lions)

Expect to see a lot of two tight end sets by the Lions, which will give them an opportunity to mix things up pre-snap and move pieces around. Ebron can play in-line, in the slot and outside, which will give offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterback Matthew Stafford a lot of options after reading defenses.

Ebron gives Stafford something he hasn’t had from that position in his five years in Detroit. In Ebron, Stafford has a tight end that can take a five-yard pass and turn it into an 80-yard touchdown. He also has a player who can run by defenders down the seam and create mismatches from the tight end position.

Pettigrew is a terrific blocker, but he’s a short and intermediate option in the passing game.

Fauria has terrific hands and great body control, which is why he’s so good in the red zone, but he’s not going to run by anyone.

Ebron is the big play threat the Lions haven’t had at the position.

His ability to turn his hips, snap his head and get up the field is really amazing to watch for an athlete his size. A lot of his drops in college were a result of him taking his eyes off the ball because he wanted to get up the field too quickly.

By the numbers:

7: With seven receiving touchdowns his rookie year, Fauria became the fourth tight end in team history to record seven touchdowns in a season

29: Drives of at least 10 plays for the Lions offense last year. That was tied for the 10th most in the league, but they scored a touchdown on just seven of those drives, or 24.1 percent of the time, which ranked 28th

82.1: The Lions goal-to-go touchdown efficiency percentage in 2013, which was the second-highest mark in the NFL


“He’s extremely athletic. If you just look at his touchdown against the University of Miami, a 71-yard touchdown, he caught a 10-yard pass and outran the secondary. You saw him run what’s hugely viewed as wide receiver routes – skinny posts, vertical seams and crossers. He ran bubble screens as well. He’s a movement guy.”

-- NFL Films’ Greg Cosell on Eric Ebron