Detroit Lions look to bolster pass-catching options at NFL Draft
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
ALLEN PARK — The Detroit Lions were the laughingstock of the league when they drafted wide receivers in the first round three straight years from 2003 to 2005, and none of them panned out for the franchise.
Detroit drafted tight ends in the first round twice over the past decade and ended up releasing both players.
Putting history aside, it looks as if the Lions need help at tight end and wide receiver during the draft after largely ignoring both positions in recent years. Detroit has the No. 8 selection overall and a total of nine picks, including a pair in each of the last two rounds.
Since 2014, Detroit has drafted only one receiver and one tight end and both picks were made two years ago.
Receiver Kenny Golladay , a third-rounder, has become a promising player while tight end, Michael Roberts, a fourth-round pick, has not been very productive.
The Lions can’t be sure how receiver Marvin Jones will bounce back from a season-ending knee injury and they have only a short-term solution at slot receiver, signing 33-year-old Danny Amendola in free agency.
They attempted to address their desperate need at tight end this offseason, signing free agent Jesse James, but they don’t seem to be satisfied.
“We’re going to do the best we can to obviously try to improve that situation for us, whether it’s through free agency or the draft,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said.
“We’re looking at those guys pretty hard and trying to make sure we get somebody in there that puts as much stress on the defense as possible.”
Former Lions general manager Matt Millen believed the NFL was becoming a pass-happy league. Millen did correctly predict the future trend, but he missed on key picks.
Quarterback Joey Harrington was a bust as were receivers Charles Rogers and Mike Williams while Roy Williams had a decent career before being traded to Dallas.
Fans in the Motor City were not happy the franchise used first-round picks on tight end Ebron in 2014 and Brandon Pettigrew in 2009 and may not like it if general manager Bob Quinn drafts Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson early in the first round.
“In all due respect to the fans out there, I can’t take the fan sentiment into who I draft and who I sign,” Quinn said.