I have always been a fan of Tony Scheffler. When his play started to decline, sharply, in 2012, I was heartbroken. I am not one, however, to sugar coat a player’s performance just because they went to my favorite college program, or because they’re local, or because they have awesome dreadlocks (If Scheffler only had dreads, he would have met the trifecta). After a 2012 that saw him receive a huge increase in both playing time and opportunities, we fans were ‘rewarded’ with a sharp dropoff in nearly every statistical category, with the noted exception of drops which got worse. Outplayed in Training Camp by promising rookie Joseph Fauria, I posited that Scheffler wouldn’t even make the active roster come cut time. An injury to Michael Williams and Matt Veldman were timely for Scheffler, however, and he was able to keep not only his roster spot but his relative spot on the depth chart. He saw a decline in snaps, which he then compounded by dropping a whopping 25% (3 out of 12) of his targets. It was only a matter of time and health that Scheffler’s time as a Lion would end. The Lions cut Scheffler today to make room for Barry Richardson, the curdled cream of a veritable trash heap of Offensive Tackles still sitting on the market. I don’t believe the Lions are done making moves, however. They will likely make one more move, signing or trading for a Tight End to act as insurance for Brandon Pettigrew (who has seen his share of injuries) and Joseph Fauria (Who has yet to add enough weight to fill out his frame). That leaves us with what’s floating on the market to ponder, which is what I’m going to take on today. The Tight End market is much better than Offensive Tackle was, but as you’d imagine there isn’t a lot out there considering where we are in the season. So the Lions will be shaking the barrel replacing Tony Scheffler, hoping something promising falls out.
This group is full of folks who can block as well as catch, though considering we’re almost halfway through the season you’re not exactly going to find a Jason Witten in here.
Daniel Fells – Playing more of an Hback role with the Patriots, Fells saw his most expansive workload back in 2010 with the Rams. He wasn’t impressive then, and he’s regressed since that time.
Randy McMichael – There are players you are happy for your team to sign, and then there are guys like Randy McMichael. I only put him here because he’s not a good enough receiver to fall in that category and not a good enough blocker to fall into that one.
Weslye Saunders – Once a physical freak for South Carolina, Saunders has been plagued by bad decision after bad decision. Saunders has been suspended twice, making him an unlikely option as his most recent suspension is not yet over.
Shaun Chapas – Lions like guys with familiarity in their offense. This is a long shot, considering they just released the former Georgia Fullback, but a possibility nonetheless.
This would be the most likely one for one signing for Tony Scheffler, who was practically useless as a blocker. These are your ‘soft’ Tight Ends who don’t like contact enough to block but are often good enough at avoiding contact to be able receivers. Then again, sometimes they’re just not good blockers.
Jake Ballard – Ballard started to look like a nice receiving option for Eli Manning back in the Giants’ 2011 Super Bowl run. Since that time, like the Giants, his play has fallen off immensely. Mostly due to injuries, Ballard has been ineffective, and hasn’t played a regular season game since 2011 due to a knee injury that is not yet 100 percent.
Visanthe Shiancoe – Once upon a time, Shiancoe was actually in the discussion of the best TE in the NFCN. The former Viking tanked hard by the time he was playing for the Patriots briefly in 2012. An emergency option at best.
Cameron Morrah – Hey, remember this guy? The Lions signed Morrah briefly, but he didn’t take. An Hback type, I was tempted to put him in the All Around group, but while Morrah was asked to block quite a bit, he was never good at it.
Richard Quinn – The Lions have taken chances on former draft busts before, and the former 2nd round pick falls into that category. Routinely injured, even when he was on the field Quinn was never anything special. A receiving specialist with one career catch should tell you something.
Evan Moore – Proof that basketball player does not equal Tight end (Thank you Antonio Gates), Moore had his last hurrah as a Cleveland Brown in 2011. Injuries and general poor play have kept him off a roster. A good athlete, but on the wrong side of 28.
Travis Beckum – The Lions were kicking Beckum’s tires back in the preseason when it was pretty clear Scheffler’s role was going to be minimal. An oft injured soft blocker, Beckum’s only value is as a receiver and his career high was 13 catches in 2010.
These are the guys that fit the role that Will Heller used to have for the Lions. Brought in on running downs or as an extra pass protector in likely blitz situations, these guys are generally big, slow, and nasty. Or they can’t catch.
Leonard Pope – Although a great guy, Pope’s play was declining as long ago as 2010, and by 2011 was almost exclusively blocking. He wasn’t a bad blocker, but not a natural either.
Hayden Smith – Placed here because I have no idea where to put him, Smith was an experiment for the Jets, a former Rugby player. I can assume a few things from that, but since I don’t watch Rugby I cannot critique his play.
Kyle Adams – The former Bear TE/FB wasn’t a good blocker, but was adequate. He was a pretty terrible receiving option, meaning he’d be a one way guy for the Lions.
Jake O’Connell – A hardly used blocker from the AFCW, O’Connell last spent time with the Broncos, where he failed to make any kind of an impression.
Will Heller – Hey, look at that. The former Detroit Lion is still out there. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Lions kick the tires, but I don’t expect him back either.