Are the Detroit Lions destined to draft a tight end in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft? Signs are pointing to that possibility.
As draft talk increases, the Detroit Lions have made more news about trying to trade down in the draft than they have about selecting any one position.
Then Peter King released his first round projections based on what he thinks each team should do in the draft. King’s thinking that another new tight end should be wearing Honolulu blue in 2019. That being Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson.
While this is billed as a non-mock draft, it’s still King saying what he thinks the team should do in the first round. The longtime football writer is also suggesting the Lions forget a recent history consisting of inconsistent play from former top-10 pick tight end Eric Ebron. If only fans could forget as well.
Here’s King’s explanation of the selection of Hockenson eighth overall …
"“8. Detroit: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa. Hmmm. Even after raiding Jesse James from the Steelers in free agency? Yes. Hockenson’s one the [sic] best blocking/receiving tight ends–and he’s passionate about the game–to come out of college football in years. Time for Matthew Stafford to have some easy completions.”"
The Ebron selection still stings, but the team might not be willing to let history predict the future. Every player is different and Hockenson appears to be the real deal. Not to mention the New England connection and Hockenson’s comparisons to tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Will Hock ever be Gronk? Probably not. But that doesn’t mean he can’t help open up the Lions offense beyond the addition of James. Technically, he even fits the bill of Lions general manager Bob Quinn wanting to build the trenches first as Hock’s an exceptional blocker. Quinn is even on record as saying he’s not opposed to taking a tight end if he’s the best player available.
This is not a popular pick for the Detroit faithful. Fans aren’t always happy with the draft picks until they are helping the team win games. There were many games down the stretch in 2018 when the offense simply couldn’t get going and they were downright frustrating to watch.
In those same games, the defense was keeping it close by allowing less than 20 points – three of their last four games the defense allowed 14 points or less. If the offense has another option to help keep the ball moving and put up points, those games could change from frustrating loses to gritty wins.
If Hock is the plan for the Lions, fans might take some solace in knowing the team has been pinned as aggressively looking to deal down in the first round. This report is essentially saying the top talent that Quinn would love to draft won’t sniff the 8th pick. So, let’s say they trade down to the 12-15 range and land Hock when he’s no longer a top-10 selection. Does that make it any better?
Yes, it certainly does. If they get one extra pick on Day 2 of the draft in the trade and then select Hock, they’ve instantly made their team better. Of course, everyone suggests trading down and they need someone willing to move up. But, if they can pull it off and find a willing trade partner, don’t rule out this possibility.