How Will Michael Roberts Fit In Detroit As A Tight End?
If you have missed the 2017 NFL draft, the Detroit Lions drafted tight end Michael Roberts from Toledo in the fourth round. People were worried during the first round that Detroit would draft another tight end, this time being David Njoku, as multiple mock drafts had him getting picked at 21 by Detroit. When Detroit was on the clock at pick 21 and Njoku was on the board, people were nervous.
Could they draft another tight end in the first round? Is Ebron done in Detroit? Bob Quinn can’t make a mistake, can he?
Luckily for fans, Jarrad Davis was picked at 21 and Njoku was later taken in the first round by the Cleveland Browns. Detroit dodged a bullet with taking another tight end in the first round. The thing is, the team needs a tight end. Scouts and others compared Njoku to Ebron, and with Ebron’s popularity not the highest in Detroit, fans wanted no part of him. Detroit would have to take a tight end sooner or later, and they picked the right time to take one as Roberts was picked. Detroit had their tight end.
Roberts Has A Rough Past
Before diving into how Roberts can help the team in 2017 and after that, you have to look at the person before the player. Roberts didn’t have an easy childhood. According to a story posted on NFL.com, Roberts was suspended from elementary school at a young age, before he was diagnosed with an attention deficit disorder. Having a speech impediment didn’t help him out either. Also during that time, his dad was serving time in jail.
Then things got worse.
His grandmother passed away due to cancer and a few months later in 2012, his 10-year-old younger brother Cameron was shot and killed by his own brother Chris, who was 13. The shooting was accidental as Chris was handling a loaded gun inside his home when it went off and it hit Cameron in the stomach, where he would later parish at MetroHealth Medical Center. Michael was 17 at the time and said that his grandmother’s death and his younger brother passing a few months after “was definitely the hardest that I had to deal with in my life to date.”
When asked how he got through that rough time, Roberts said:
“The same way I get through everything. I just put my head down and work. There’s nothing that can prepare you for such events. You know, you just have to – I used that energy, that negative energy, and that hurt, but I just kind of directed it in a positive light to not only graduate college but finish high school.”
Roberts would finish high school, but his poor grades prevented him from getting a scholarship, but he would go on to make the Toledo football team.
What Does Michael Roberts Bring To The Field?
Detroit needed a tight end to block and catch, Roberts can do that. While he isn’t a solid blocker, he can do the job well enough. While he isn’t an all-star when catching the ball, again he can do well enough to get the job done. Detroit wasn’t looking for a strict blocking tight end in this year’s draft with the addition of Darren Fells. They weren’t looking for a strict receiving tight end, as they have Ebron. They needed a body that could do both and do it well and Roberts is that guy.
While at Toledo, Roberts rarely played his first two years. While he played in 11 games his junior year, better than the three he had in the previous two years combined, he wasn’t starting. His senior year he ended up starting and was a great weapon for the offense. Overall he finished with 70 catches for 832 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Roberts’ hands are huge, 11 1/2″ to be exact. Those hands give him a good catch radius and security to hold onto the ball once it is in his huge hands. The way his body size is as well helps with his catch radius, catching balls outside of his frame. While he has big hands, he does struggle with route running, hence why he is a good red zone target as the routes are short and simple. Blocking is a mixed bag. He struggles with one on one blocking but lined up next to a lineman he can contribute and do his job.
Roberts was a fan of the Lions even before the draft as you can see here. You can see Bob Quinn and Jim Caldwell liked Roberts too from the tweet.
Was Michael Roberts Worth The Pick?
Certainly. While Jake Butt and George Kittle were still on the board, Roberts is a good addition to the team. Detroit needed to increase the bodies at the position during the offseason, which as of this minute sits at six players. Detroit lost Brandon Pettigrew, a valuable backup to the position, in the middle of last season and Detroit never recovered as Ebron didn’t have any help behind him.
Clay Harbor wasn’t as talented as he used to be, Matthew Mulligan did well in blocking, but that was all he could do. Tim Wright was out since the season even started, and Cole Wick was injured for the majority of the season.
Roberts won’t step on the field as a backup, he will easily be the third-string tight end behind veteran tight end Fells. In the end, Roberts was a good addition to the team and he will be able to have an impact on the field his rookie year. His red zone presence will certainly be noticed as he could be used in a three tight end package and be the target. Ebron is the receiving tight end, Fells is the blocking tight end, and Roberts is the tweener. He can block when asked to and he can go out and run the route you want and complete the catch with his huge hands.
He is already excited to play for Matt Stafford too, saying:
“He’s a gunslinger. He’s a precise quarterback. It’s crazy, I was having this conversation the other day about Matthew Stafford. He’s just a great quarterback and I think he’s really laying the foundation and is just looking to win games.”
If you are interested in learning more about Roberts, check out his NFL draft profile here. If you want to watch some of the film on him when he was at Toledo, click here.