Lions: Two intriguing rookie tight ends

May, 13, 2013
5/13/13
12:00
PM ET
I didn't attend the Detroit Lions' rookie minicamp, but in my mind's eye, I imagine it would have been difficult to miss two tight ends as big as Michael Williams and Joseph Fauria.

[+] EnlargeMichael Williams
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsDetroit tight end Michael Williams practices during rookie camp at the Lions training facility on Friday.
Williams, one of the Lions' seventh-round draft choices, is 6-foot-5 and nearly 280 pounds. Fauria, an undrafted free agent, is 6-7 and 259 pounds. Based on how many times they came up in coach Jim Schwartz's interview sessions over the weekend, it's safe to say they left an impression.

Williams was one of the best blocking tight ends available in the draft, but Schwartz said: "I wouldn't discount his role that way." Schwartz noted "a great catch on a seven route in the corner against a really good safety" that Williams made during Senior Bowl festivities and added: "He's not a one-trick pony when he goes into the game."

Still, Fauria figures as the better pass-catching prospect of the two. At his height, and with nearly 34-inch arms, Fauria has "a giant wingspan" physical catching ability. Meanwhile, hands that measure almost 11 inches give him what NFL scouts call "paws."

It's easy to get excited about those parts of Fauria's attributes and forget there was a reason he wasn't drafted. Most of it has to do with strength, speed and the same body frame that gets you excited in the first place.

Fauria managed 17 reps of 225 pounds at the scouting combine and ran his 40-yard dash at the UCLA Pro Day in 4.72 and 4.82 seconds. Also, generally speaking, a player that lanky is going to have difficulty getting blocking leverage on the line of scrimmage.

Regardless, as Schwartz said, there are ways to minimize those weaknesses.

"He's 6-7 and he's a big target," Schwartz said. "He's got a lot of things he needs to work on. He needs to work on his blocking and things like that, but he also has a frame that makes it tough. There were a couple times out there today in our half-line stuff and our seven-on-seven stuff where a safety was all over him with great coverage, but he was able to make the catch just because he’s so long."

This issue carried added weight given that the Lions' top two tight ends, Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler, are entering the final year of their contracts. No one would suggest that Williams and Fauria will supplant that duo in 2014, but the larger transition process is underway.

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