Willson Has Potential To Rebound In 2019
Last season the Detroit Lions signed veteran tight end (and a native of Windsor, Canada) Luke Willson to presumably become their starting tight end. Willson had been an average tight end over the previous five seasons with the Seattle Seahawks.
In 2018 Luke Willson set career lows in receptions (13), yards (87), yards per reception (6.7) and touchdowns (0). This was in spite of appearing in 14 games and starting eight. He did receive an average grade of 55.3 from Pro Football Focus and was ranked as the 57th best tight end in the NFL.
Going into the 2019 season, the Lions have hired a new offensive coordinator, Darrell Bevell. Bevell was the offensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks during each of Willson’s five seasons in Seatle. During Willson’s time with Bevell, he averaged 18 receptions for 226 yards and two touchdowns per season. Willson’s best season came in 2014 when he caught 22 passes for 362 yards and three touchdowns.
While these numbers certainly do not set the world on fire, they are certainly respectable from the tight end position, and a drastic improvement over Willson’s 2018 production. Detroit’s most productive tight end in 2018 was Levine Toilolo, who caught only 21 passes for 263 yards and a single touchdown off of a trick play from field goal kicker Matt Prater.
While Luke Willson has never put it all together on the football field, he does have elite physical skills. He stands at 6’5″ and ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in 2013. It is rare to find a player that is both that big and fast. He also uses his size well in the run game. He did nearly nothing in the passing game last year but blocked well for the Detroit Lions runnings backs.
Willson is not going to put up elite, or even good numbers in 2019. However, he certainly has the potential to return to being an average tight end now that he has been reunited with his offensive coordinator from his days with the Seahawks.