The Detroit Lions selected TJ Hockenson #8 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft tonight and I'm here to break down the pros and cons.
The Pros: Hockenson wouldn't be going in the top ten without being a generational TE prospect, which he is. In a world in which everyone overuses the term "generational" in relation to draft prospects of every sport, Hockenson fits that in terms of tight ends because well... he's the highest a tight end has been picked since 2006. And that certainly wasn't an overpick either, as Hockenson was #7 on the big board of The Athletic ($) as well as SB Nation and Sporting News. Most all scouting reports have little-to-nothing bad to say about him. They tend to be along the lines of "woulda been cool to see him more in college" and "can fine tune his blocking". If you want an incredible athlete at tight end, Hockenson is it, with elite explosiveness, good speed, and great agility. He also doesn't have the drop issues of a certain Lions tight end of years past, dropping just one pass last year compared to 49 catches. He's also incredibly well rounded and NFL ready. In a position where the prospects often take years to develop into respectable players at the pro level, Hockenson can probably step in and be a plus-plus receiver and blocker right away. The Lions need help blocking for Kerryon Johnson. Hockenson provides it. The Lions need a safety valve receiver after trading Golden Tate. Hockenson can be it. The Lions have perpetually neglected the tight end position and it has hurt them, badly. Take a look at the top 10 offenses in the NFL: nearly all of those teams have high end, productive tight ends. Kelce, Gronk, OJ Howard, Ertz, Hooper, (gulp) Ebron/Doyle. This is a pattern and well, the Lions haven't had it. Now they've got a guy who could be great. Hockenson gives them three young playmakers at the key skill positions in Johnson, Kenny Golladay, and Hockenson to build an offense around.
The Cons: This was the kind of pick that brought a certain type of Detroit Lions fan out of the woodwork. You know who I'm talking about. The S.O.L. types. The people who log onto twitter.com ready to complain about how the Lions will never succeed until the Ford Family is cleansed from the earth. The type of people who go to dinner parties ready to share stories of Reggie Rogers, Joey Harrington, and Titus Young. They, let's just say, detested this pick. Why? Eric. Ebron. Because this is the type of pick that tests whether you believe in ghosts or not. It was a top 10 tight end, with a defensive tackle taken immediately after. Yes, Hockenson will be compared to Ed Oliver until the end of time, for better or worse, no matter how fair or unfair it may be. Oh and who was the last first round tight end taken before Ebron by Detroit? Brandon Pettigrew, who was fine but never became a star. It's a pick that gives you the deja vu, "here we go again" feeling that haunts every Lions fan. All of that said, there don't seem to be many Lions fans who actually dislike the pick *for the player*. It tends to be some combination of "Ebron Don't Take A Oliver Tight End Ebron In The First Oliver Round Ever Ebron Again As Oliver Long As I Live Ebron". But no pressure, TJ, I'm sure the fans will love you.
The Reality: None of this matters! Drafts are judged by what happens, not what will happen because no one can predict the future. I'm old enough to remember when the Lions emerged from the 2011 NFL Draft as the consensus winners and then.... they emerged with a first rounder that never fully panned out, two catastrophic second round busts, and literally nothing else. So ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. None of us know anything about sports and none of us will. Call me up in 2024.