Here it is: The position I was 100 percent sure the Detroit Lions would take way earlier than the fourth round. In fact, I spent most of the week leading up to the draft telling anyone who would listen that I thought the Lions would take David Njoku with the 21st pick. I’m glad I was wrong.
The Lions instead made all the moves that they should have made, and then found themselves drafting tight end Michael Roberts of Toledo. This is a pretty solid pick. From what I can tell, Roberts is a 6-foot-4 mountain of a tight end that can block and catch the ball. In other words, exactly what the Lions needed.
But still, Reisman insisted I traveled to Toledo on the double. So I hopped in the truck and hit the road for a nice three hour drive to the 71st largest city in America and home of Pride Of Detroit’s own Chris Lemieux.
The moment I rolled into town, I knew the only thing I wanted to do was go visit penguins at the Toledo Zoo. After I was informed that there is a cap on how many times you can do the Penguin encounter and aviary tour, I kindly gathered my things and left.
POD: What are your thoughts on Roberts’ time at Toledo?
TB: “I covered the Toledo Rockets for the first time this past season, so I only saw Roberts for one season. He didn't get much playing time before his senior season, but once he got the chance to be an everyday starter, he took off. He was an extremely consistent threat in the passing game from game one of the 2016 season through the bowl game. He set a school-record with 16 touchdown catches and was almost impossible to cover at times in the red zone.”
POD: What are his strengths?
TB: “Roberts has huge hands which allow him to catch almost anything thrown anywhere near him. He excels in the red zone where his size and strength make him difficult to deal with. His coaches at Toledo say he improved a lot in his overall game which includes his blocking. He worked hard to be effective in the run game and it has showed.”
POD: What are his weaknesses?
TB: “His main weakness is his lack of straight line speed. He can struggle at times getting separation from defenders. If he works hard to increase his quickness and burst off of the line of scrimmage he could be a big-time pass-catching threat.”
POD: The Lions have needed a tight end that can block and receive for a while, can Roberts fill this need right away?
TB: “I think Roberts can contribute right away. You might see him as more of a red-zone specialist in the beginning of the year while he develops consistency with his route-running and execution. As a secondary threat in the passing game at the position along with Eric Ebron, he could see some mismatches that he is able to exploit in the passing game. I think he will also continue to develop as a physical blocker at the point of attack.”
To reiterate what I said earlier, I thought the Michael Roberts pick was a smart pick. The Lions are in need of what he can bring as a blocker. Eric Ebron should be thanking his lucky stars that between Roberts and and Darren Fells, he’ll no longer have to block as much anymore.
Time will tell if Roberts can blossom into a player that contributes more than just in the red zone. But for now, his height and gigantic hands will do just fine in that area.