For a rather reasonable fee, Golden Tate is now a Detroit Lion.
Enough from Lions fans clamoring for Sammy Watkins. Enough from Watkins with his misguided Transformers analog; go customize yourself a Raiders or Browns jersey now.
What!? Still whispery misplaced desires for Watkins?
The new authors of the Lions offensive scheme, to be engineered by the paid-like-a-franchise quarterback - comes with roughly fifteen years of collective experience coaching Peyton Manning & Drew Brees. With their anticipated adjustments I hope, but more expect, Matthew Stafford's interceptions to be cut in half (< 10 or 11) and his completion percentage to finally comfortably creep over the sixty percent mark AND stay there for more than just a single season. Without a single notable addition to the Lions offense, the contributions of the Caldwell, Lombardi, Cooter think tank should steward the quarterback's ascent to more consistency; thus more wins.
But now the Lions have reliable and viable second wide receiver in his prime. Yep, modest knock at Nate Burleson intended. Tate is a player with skills to even further expose weaknesses in defenses with so much focus on Calvin Johnson. Tate should be able to secure more than just Calvin's sloppy seconds.
Burleson's second year in the league with the Vikings was his best as he accumulated 1008 yards on 68 catches with 9 scores. His second best season in the league came during his final campaign with the Seahawks with 63 catches, 812 yards and 3 scores. The median would be acceptable totals from Tate in '14.
Even when he was healthy with Detroit, Burleson's success was more a product of guile and league know-how than speed. Those are fine traits for a number three receiver - I think Jason Avant - but not for a potent running mate for Calvin.
Tate brings speed that Burleson didn't possess, and just to note it, more reliability and less neurosis than Titus Young.
A crude look at the Lions offense now goes like this:
QB - All the ability, if he takes the teaching, a top 10 QB
RB - Bush, aging and fumble prone at times, but a formidable backfield with Bell.
OL - Competent with an emerging star in Larry Warford.
TE - Fauria paired with a block-first tight end is a commendable duo.
WR - Two more All Pro years need to be squeezed from Calvin. Tate, mid-round rookie TBD, Durham Olgetree, Ross, etc...
Misc. - Interesting they're considering a fullback. If Lombardi mimics what the Saints did, the only surprising thing about their interest in Henry Hynoski is that he isn't much of a receiver, but Saints FB Jed Collins only had 15 catches last year anyway. Still, I like the idea...but would be genuinely happier with a tight end who can catch a little and block out of the backfield - except better than Brandon Pettigrew and at a lower cost than he'll desire and/or warrant. It's doubtful, but perhaps that's 2013 7th round pick Michael Williams who spent the year on IR.
If the Lions do wind up adding a more typical starting tight end (Ed Dickson, Andrew Quarless *He resigned with GB*, etc.) and the fullbuck role they're contemplating filling, the interesting shifty Theo Riddick may not make the roster, unless...the Lions shift him back to WR, as he grabbed 120 balls at Notre Dame as a wide out but playing mostly running back as a senior.
The idea of the 5'9" 200 lb Riddick sliding around formations to exploit LB mismatches has to intrigue the coaching staff, if they believe he has the skills I think we saw some of last year.
With the addition of Super Bowl winner Golden Tate, the primary need of the Lions offense has found its resolution.
Now, about that pick at 10 in May...