The Detroit Lions have invested a lot in tight ends

ALLEN PARK , Mich. (AP) —  desperately hoping to turn a weakness into a strength.Detroit drafted Iowa star T.J. Hockenson early in the first round of the NFL draft in April a month after signing veteran Jesse James .“We did a great job this offseason, getting the pieces that we thought we were missing,” Lions tight end Michael Roberts said.Roberts was referring to the entire team, but improving the options at his position was clearly a point of emphasis for the front office one year after it appeared to make a mistake.The Lions let Eric Ebron go before the 2018 season and failed to effectively replace him, leading to one of the factors that slowed down Matthew Stafford and the offense. Ebron , meanwhile Johnathan Abram Jersey , flourished with the Indianapolis Colts.Levine Toilolo, Luke Willson, Hakeem Valles and Roberts combined to make just 45 catches last season. Only the Miami Dolphins had fewer receptions from tight ends in the NFL last season.Toilolo, Willson and Valles didn’t return to play in Detroit, and Roberts’ job appears to be in jeopardy.“It’s just competition,” Roberts said. “It’s no secret we haven’t had the best couple of years at the tight end position. I’m hoping we’re one of the best tight end corps in the league.”Hockenson and James will likely play a lot, giving Stafford a pair of solid targets at tight end to go along with receivers Kenny Golladay , Marvin Jones and Danny Amendola.The 6-foot-5, 251-pound Hockenson was a second-team All-America and first-team All-Big Ten player last season. He led Iowa with 760 yards receiving and was second on the team with 49 receptions and six touchdowns.Hockenson is the first tight end taken No. 8 or higher since San Francisco selected Vernon Davis sixth overall in 2006.“I’m not putting any (pressure) on myself and no one is putting any on me,” he said.James had 120 receptions for 1,189 yards and nine touchdowns in four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.Roberts may be vying for one spot on the team with Logan Thomas, Jerome Cunningham and Isaac Nauta.“It’s a very competitive group,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said Wednesday before the second of three minicamp practices.Thomas said there’s a good mix of players at the position.“Some guys have played a lot of football and some guys that are new to the league,” said Thomas Maxx Crosby Jersey , who had 19 catches for 144 yards and a touchdown over the past two years with the Bills.“We got a bunch of guys that want it, they’re hungry and they want to have success. As a coach, I think that’s what you ask for out of your guys. And as a player, that’s what you want from the player beside you.” The NFL changes rapidly. Often times that means your favourite team's depth chart can shuffle around massively from year to year. Some players find themselves starting every single game for a team one year, but due to performance or age, can find themselves washed up and out of the league the following season. With sports in general becoming faster and younger everyday, it can be understandable that some older/less dominant players fall by the wayside. Sometimes these washed up players still believe that can play at an elite level though. While a guy like James Harrison is proving age is just a number Hakeem Butler Jersey , other players are not so lucky. A lot of players have passed their primes and will likely never return.The players below are some familiar faces around the league that still occupied starting spots in the 2017-2018 season that could find their way out of that role due to their abysmal play. These players should not expect to be starting for their current franchises next season. Some will either be replaced at the top of the depth chart, while others who looked absolutely washed up last season will find a hard time getting back into the league. Not every player on this list will be replaced or shipped off to a new team obviously, but many need a harsh reality check that their starting days are winding down fast as their play declines.

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