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Returning from last season: Jerome Felton
New to the team: Matt Clapp (signed as an undrafted free agent)
Before the draft, Jerome Felton was the only fullback on the roster. The Lions did look into drafting a FB like John Connor from Kentucky, but he was picked by the Jets in the fifth round. As a result, the Lions decided to simply go the undrafted free agent route to add depth to the fullback position, signing Oklahoma's Matt Clapp. Also, they started working out Jake Nordin at fullback, essentially giving him a better opportunity to make the team since the tight end position is so crowded.
Felton will be entering his third season in the NFL in 2010 and is obviously penciled in as the starting fullback right now. He has shown that he can be a pretty good runner in the past and isn't a bad option to throw the ball to either. Felton was a common name on the injury report for much of 2009, but when healthy he is very good and versatile.
As for the other two, Clapp is fullback who also excels on special teams, whereas Nordin is merely a tight end trying out at fullback this offseason. Clapp has a decent shot of making the roster just because there aren't a lot of players battling to be the Lions' second fullback, but it will really come down to whether Detroit wants to carry two FBs on the roster. Terrelle Smith was waived last December, for example, but the Lions did not replace him with another FB, leaving Felton as the lone player at that position on the roster.
Another factor worth considering is Nordin's versatility. He could easily become a Casey FitzSimmons type of player -- a tight end that can play fullback when called upon. With space so limited at tight end as it is, that added versatility could be enough to keep him around, especially if it came down to him or Clapp. Would you rather have a player that can line up at fullback and special teams or one that can line up at tight end, fullback and special teams? To me it will really come down to how many tight ends and fullbacks the coaches decide to keep around. Clapp and Nordin likely won't both be kept around barring some injuries, but I think one of them can make the team.
Need going forward?
Right now there is no need at the fullback position. That said, one thing I would keep an eye on is if the Lions do anything after the final round of roster cuts. If a veteran fullback is cut, for example, I could see the Lions deciding to bring him in to add some depth behind Jerome Felton. Of course, the Lions may decide to just keep Felton on the roster and make a move only if an injury occurs, but I could see a move happening if a veteran FB becomes a free agent right before the start of the regular season.
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