Our latest series on the Detroit Lions roster continues with a comparison of the fullback position from 2014 to 2015. Did the Lions improve at fullback? Let's take a look.
2014 FBs: Jed Collins
2015 FBs: Michael Burton, Emil Igwenagu
Given Jed Collins' connection to Joe Lombardi from their time in New Orleans together, it was a bit surprising to see the Lions not re-sign him this offseason. Collins eventually ended up in Dallas, but he has since been released. In Detroit, meanwhile, the Lions seemed content giving Emil Igwenagu a promotion from the practice squad to the starting fullback role until they spent a fifth-round pick on Michael Burton. Now Burton figures to be the Lions' top fullback this year.
Did they improve?
This is a tough call simply because it's not like Collins was a bad player or anything like that for the Lions last year. He didn't exactly have a major role, but it seemed like he did what was asked of him as an occasional lead blocker, receiver and special teams contributor.
Going from Collins to Burton will be an interesting transition simply because Collins had so much experience in Lombardi's offensive scheme. I'm sure there will be growing pains along the way with Burton, but clearly the Lions think he has a lot more upside going forward. They seem to envision him as an asset in the passing game, and he will be a frequent special teams contributor as well.
Anyway, to make a long story short and actually answer the question, I guess I will say yes. There's not a lot of confidence behind that answer, but Collins is currently without a team, while Burton has drawn pretty favorable reviews from his time at Rutgers.
What about compared to 2013?
2013 FBs: N/A
Montell Owens was on the roster in 2013, but he was technically a running back at the time, so the Lions didn't have any fullbacks on their roster. They simply didn't utilize this position under Scott Linehan.