Although the concerns that come with drafting a first-round tight end have not subsided, the Detroit Lions’ top choice has made a good early impression.
The Detroit Lions drew the ire of some fans this offseason when they once again used a first-round selection to draft a tight end. And no amount of post-draft hype or reassurances from so-called draft experts could replace the sour memories of others who’ve failed to meet similar lofty expectations in the past.
Yet, what’s done is done. And despite coming off a disappointing 6-10 record last season, the Lions made various offseason moves that should make them much more competitive this year. The highlight being the addition of several big-name free agents like defensive end Trey Flowers, cornerback Justin Coleman, defensive tackle Mike Daniels, tight end Jesse James, and wide receiver Danny Amendola.
Combined with emerging stars like wide receiver Kenny Golladay, running back Kerryon Johnson, and defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand; the Lions is quickly becoming a talented team that is being overlooked by most of the national media.
Despite all the additions, there is still intrigue about Hockenson’s potential. If the 22-year old can live up to even a fraction of the hype he had coming out of Iowa, it could make things very exciting for Lions’ fans this season. And the early reviews are good.
Here’s what Mike O’Hara wrote on DetroitLions.com about Hockenson’s training camp performance so far, and one touchdown catch in particular.
"“It has become a daily occurrence to mention a good catch by rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson, and he made another one Sunday – and in front of an important fan. Hockenson made a sharp cut to Matthew Stafford’s pass in the right corner of the end zone. Positioned to view practice a few yards away was franchise owner Martha Firestone Ford.”"
Under new offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, the Lions figure to be a more run-centric team moving forward. And that’s where the rookie tight end may have the biggest impact. Hockenson was considered the top run-blocking tight end in his class and possibly in several years. One analyst went as far as to call Hockenson the destroyer of worlds as a blocker.
Although an excellent season by Kerryon Johnson on the ground will, in part, likely be due to the presence of T.J. Hockenson, fans will measure the rookie’s value by his contributions on the stat sheet. Hockenson reportedly had just two drops for his entire college career. If he can display that kind of efficiency with his targets from quarterback Matthew Stafford this season, hardened fans might actually start believing a tight end could be worth a first-round pick.