The Detroit Lions select T.J. Hockenson here with their first pick. Hockenson is one of the best tight end prospects to come out of college in a long time. He is probably the best all around tight end in the draft as he doesn’t really have a weakness to his game. Hockenson can and will do anything that is asked of him at the highest of levels from blocking defensive ends into the ground to making a touchdown grab in the back of the end-zone while a defender is draped all over him.
Hockenson is battling it out with his fellow Iowa Hawkeye teammate Noah Fant to be the first tight end selected in this draft. The Lions had their pick of the two tight ends here, but I think Hockenson will get the nod over Fant on their board because he is a better scheme fit and is the most well-rounded tight end between the two.
When first looking at Hockenson you may not think that he is a good athlete that will soon be in the top tier of tight ends in the NFL, and yet that is exactly what he is. Hockenson can block the best defensive ends five yards off the ball and into dirt and he will enjoy doing it too. He can also slip right by linebackers, and maybe more importantly safeties, and get open anywhere on the field.
Adding Hockenson to this offense would give quarterback Matthew Stafford a dynamic pass catcher roaming the middle of the field that can stretch the defense and would provide running back Kerryon Johnson with gaping holes to zip through on outside runs. Paired with his effectiveness in both the run and pass game, Hockenson would add a whole new level of scary to this Lions offense in the open field.
Then there is the added effect he would bring to the Lions’ offense in the redzone. Imagine an offense with wide receivers Marvin Jones (jump-ball specialist) and Kenny Golladay (all-around star), running back Kerryon Johnson, and Hockenson in the middle of all of them.
Who is the defense going to double cover and leave on an island? Most likely they would choose to double Golladay and Hockenson, but then they still have to hope their second best cornerback can beat Jones on a jump-ball or hope their second best linebacker can keep up with Kerryon out of the backfield.
If the Lions were to add Hockenson to their offense they would get a day one starter who would be considered elite by the end of year one at both blocking in the run game and catching passes from Stafford in the pass game. This pick would give the Lions one of the safest players in the draft and also provide them a tight end who has the ability to join the conversation as the top tight end in the league after a couple of years.