Derrick Deese Jr. has been named the undrafted free agent most likely to make the Detroit Lions roster, and he is an interesting addition to the tight end mix.
After the 2022 NFL Draft was over, the Detroit Lions made moves to add undrafted players. They have brought in a chunk of undrafted free agents, with contracts within a day after the draft or subsequent invites to rookie minicamp next weekend.
UDFAs often get brushed off by most fans. However, some of these players can make significant impact in the league–even as rookies. Just last season the Lions had several undrafted rookies make meaningful contributions. AJ Parker became the starting slot corner, Jerry Jacobs played significant snaps at boundary corner, Brock Wright worked his way into the backup tight end role and Tommy Kraemer filled in as a guard when injuries popped up.
This year, the Lions have brought in a few undrafted guys who are intriguing. Derrick Deese Jr., a tight end out of San Jose State, stands out.
Depth at tight end was an underrated need for the Lions. T.J. Hockenson is firmly in place as the No. 1 guy, but after that it was Wright, free agency signing Garrett Griffin and a steep drop-off. Drafting James Mitchell in the fifth round was a step to add upside to the mix.
Derrick Deese Jr. seems to have a legit chance to make Lions roster
The 33rd Team named Deese as the undrafted free agent most likely to make the Lions’ roster.
Over the past two offseasons, the Lions have been doing their best to get tough players who love football as a fundamental part of their rebuild, and Deese seems to fit that. Even though Detroit has a talented TE, the undersized but productive Deese should add some important depth to the room.
The financial investment the Lions made in the son of former NFL offensive lineman Derrick Deese seems to back up that he’s going to be given a real chance to make the roster.
So what does it mean? The answer is actually quite simple: competition. Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell have openly stated they want as much competition as possible in training camp. The move to have Deese is one that will push Mitchell and Wright to be at their absolute best. If Deese outworks and outperforms the other tight ends, he’ll be kept around.
Over his final two seasons at San Jose State, in 20 games, Deese averaged 14.5 yards a catch with nine total touchdowns (47 catches for 730 yards and four touchdowns in 2021). So he seems to be a legit passing game weapon, and an interesting addition to the competition for spots behind Hockenson on the tight end depth chart.