Detroit definitely needed to address the tight end position during the offseason leading into the 2017 season. While the team has shown confidence in top-10 pick Eric Ebron, the depth beyond him has been in flux over the past couple of seasons. A myriad of tight ends have made their way in and out of Detroit, failing to stick with the team as general manager Bob Quinn sought to find the right player for the job.
Darren Fells has ended up being exactly what Quinn was looking for.
He’s a big, primarily blocking tight end, but we think we can utilize him in other areas as well because he’s a really athletic guy for being so big,” Quinn said. “He’s 270-plus pounds. So that’s kind of what his role was in Arizona, but we’re going to try to – once we get him in here in the OTAs and work with him a little more closely, we’ll try to expand that.
Fells has lived up to his billing. Pro Football Focus has him as one of the best pass blocking tight ends, and an overall grade of 75.1—good for 12th best among all tight ends. But Detroit has been able to tap into more of his other abilities, especially in the red zone.
Through nine games in 2017, Fells is on pace to set career marks for targets, receptions, and touchdown catches. With the return of Taylor Decker, and the Lions on schedule to have the offensive line they imagined for the first time since Decker’s shoulder injury in June, Fells’ role becomes a lot less predictable.
Late Wednesday night, Fells tweeted out a message explaining his decision to join Detroit, saying he was “looking forward” to it and labeling it a “fresh start.” In a short video clip attached to the tweet, Fells explained more about what’s made his albeit short time with Detroit such a great experience:
I’m just excited being here, playing with this team. It’s a rarity that you get to literally have fun every single day. Like practice, some guys dread going to practice or lifting weights, but it’s from top to bottom, everybody’s having fun. And that just radiates all around the room, no matter what room you’re in. So, I’m just excited going out there and playing with these guys and building more and more relationships.
Fells and the Lions head to Chicago this Sunday to take on the Bears at Soldier Field, another key game in their hunt for a playoff berth.