Lions Sign Massive Former Pac-12 Tight End to Roster

Utah Football

Getty Utah players celebrate a big play against Washington State.

The Detroit Lions continue to make moves this offseason even as they don’t have a perminant front office, and this week, they added another player to the offense.

Detroit signed tight end Hunter Thedford to the roster as a free agent. Thedford hasn’t been around the league long, as his draft year was 2019. He started his career with SMU but then moved on to Utah, where he finished out his college career. Utah Football had pictures of Thedford signing his new deal in Detroit.

Thedford would be the second player the Lions have signed this week, with former Alabama and Washington linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton joining the squad via signing. Clearly, the Lions have stayed busy even given the changes they have committed to, and Thedford is their latest under-the-radar move this offseason.

Hunter Thedford Stats

Thedford had an interesting career in college. It started with him playing for SMU as a defensive end, but Thedford rarely saw the field on defense, so he switched to tight end and the offensive side of the ball. Even such, he only caught 3 passes for 36 yards in an SMU jersey, so he transferred to Utah. In his final season in college in 2019, Thedford caught just 2 passes for 12 yards. He became an undrafted free agent and wasn’t signed, though the Lions did give him a look months ago during a workout.

The one advantage Thedford does have is size. He is a whopping 6-6 and 260 pounds. Though Detroit doesn’t have a coaching staff yet to sort out these decisions more completely, the team has had success turning bigger players from other positions into linemen. That played out this season with Matt Nelson, a former defensive lineman turned offensive tackle. Nelson successfully held down the fort for the Lions up front against Chicago’s Khalil Mack in a key road game. It’s possible that someone calling the shots in the personnel department could see the same potential for Thedford down the line in Detroit. Similarly, Nelson is 6-7 and 313 pounds, so in an NFL weight training program, Thedford could certainly have the frame to be molded into a lineman.

Lions Offseason Kicking Into Gear With Signings

Even though the Lions do not currently have a full-time general manager or head coach, the front office has not stopped making moves early this offseason. Detroit recently pounced on adding productive NFL linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton off waivers this week from Washington, while over a week ago, they finalized some of their futures signings for next season by adding the likes of wideout Victor Bolden and others. Clearly, the front office has kept things moving even as the Lions have committed to change and a big shakeup there in the coming weeks, which could point to the fact that some of the personnel folks could have a role within the new front office.

Thedford joins the team now, and will have a long way to go before he can crack the roster permanently. At the very least, however, he will be given a shot and has a chance to stick with the team following this move.

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