The Detroit Lions have many needs in the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft. After securing several needs through free agency, the team is now left with a couple of holes to try and get the team back to the NFL Playoffs in 2013. One of the team’s lesser needs is tight end, but I believe it is an area that will be pursued during the draft.
In the 2013 NFL offseason, the Lions have hosted three tight end prospects. Dion Sims (Michigan State), Michael Williams (Alabama), and Travis Kelce (Cincinnati) have all visited Detroit. The team will be looking for a third string option to replace Will Heller and also a tight end that could make 2014 free agents Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler expendable.
In 2012, Heller caught 17 passes for 150 yards and one touchdown. Pettigrew and Scheffler ranked second and third on the team in receiving yards. Pettigrew caught 59 passes for 567 yards and three touchdowns. Pettigrew saw 100 pass attempts thrown his way for the third straight year and came up short in several big games. Pettigrew also had four fumbles during the season. Scheffler caught 42 passes for 504 yards and a touchdown, bringing in only 50% of the 84 targeted passes.
Both Pettigrew and Scheffler will be free agents at the end of the 2013 season, which is why the Lions need to make this a draft need. In the last 10 years, the Lions have only drafted two tight ends (Pettigrew and Dan Gronkowski).
Kelce had an impressive 2012 season at Cincinnati. He finished the season with 45 catches for 722 yards and eight touchdowns. Even more impressive, this was accomplished with an injury that occurred in week three. Kelce, suffering from a sports hernia, also ran a 4.62 40 yard dash time while still not 100%.
Sims will enter the draft after his junior season. In 2012, Sims had 36 catches for 475 yards and two touchdowns. Sims was also born in Detroit, where he attended high school before attending Michigan State.
The Lions need a tight end to push Pettigrew and Scheffler during contract years. The team will also need key run blocking for newly signed free agent Reggie Bush. Expect the Lions to take a tight end in Day 2 of the 2013 NFL Draft.
Chris Katje is the featured Detroit Lions writer for Rant Sports. Follow Chris on Twitter.