Round 1, No. 8 overall: T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa
My take: I would have thought this was a smart selection and the Lions doing exactly what Bob Quinn was expected to do — select a player at a position of need with a high floor and high character — except that was before Ed Oliver slipped down to No. 8. Oliver is a potential game-changing defensive talent who could play multiple spots in Matt Patricia’s defense and seemed like a smart fit. Instead, the Lions brought in a player who makes sense on a lot of levels but will have to be one of the best at his position to make it a strong pick down the road.
What about Ed Oliver: That is going to be the question for at least a little while, in part because of what happened the last time Detroit took a tight end in the top 10. That was Eric Ebron, who ended up becoming a Pro Bowler in Indianapolis. In Detroit, though, he was often known as the player selected ahead of Aaron Donald, Taylor Lewan, Zack Martin and Odell Beckham Jr. Who knows whether that happens again, but the comparisons are certainly there. Hockenson, though, is a stronger overall prospect than Ebron and fills a need, where Ebron was largely viewed as a luxury pick.
Tight ends will get opportunities: Between the signing of Jesse James in free agency and the drafting of Hockenson early, don’t be surprised if the Lions run a lot of two tight end sets in Darrell Bevell’s new offense. Bevell and Matt Patricia clearly want to focus on the run and Hockenson is a strong blocker, which makes him an every down type of player for Detroit. Considering all of Quinn’s first-round picks have started immediately for the Lions, figure Hockenson to do the same this year — and be on the field a lot for Matthew Stafford, who lacked a consistent tight end to throw to last year. He’ll also give Stafford another red-zone option, which can only help a new offense.
What’s next: The Lions figure to look to defense with their Day 2 selections (Nos. 43 and 88 overall) unless they make another move. Quinn has been a trader during drafts in the past, so keep an eye on it.