Ash Thompson grades the Lions first round pick and revises the tiered draft board.
By the time we actually got to the first night of the draft, the Detroit Lions had been linked to every prospect or trade scenario. When they took T. J. Hockenson there was always going to be a certain number of people who were going to be able to say they knew it all along (they didn’t) They will spend the next year talking about how they’re inside Bob Quinn‘s head (they’re not). I am neutral about the pick, the Lions grabbed the fifth available player on my big board. I do not love tight ends in the first round. They just do not produce enough yardage personally to be worth the pick. Additionally few of the elite at the position go that high.
What the Team Missed Out On
With that said Ed Oliver, who went one pick after the Lions selection, was never going to be a Lion. He seems to be the specific player that most angry fans have fixated on. The issue with that is that Oliver can’t play in 3/4 of the Lions defense. He is a gap shooting three-technique defensive tackle The Lions defense uses that skill set in a couple of sub packages. He may have been able to transition to a down defensive end spot, but he lacks the desired length for the transition. Even if he could, the Lions just signed Trey Flowers to play that spot.
If you are upset because Martin Mayhew took a tight end that had no production who lacked elite athletic traits and had average measurables a few years ago; know that Hockenson is not that. He was a blocking specialist as a freshman and became a dominant college level receiver. T. J. Hockenson will be your favorite Detroit Lion in three years. The Lions received offers for the pick. The Broncos turned the No. 10 pick into No. 20, No. 52, and the Steelers 2020 third-round pick. It is not the players on the board that make me unhappy about the pick, it was the other two 2021 starters that the Lions appear to have turned down. T.J. Hockenson gets a B from me. I like the player a ton. I really do like him. He was the number one tight end. The opportunity cost, however, was too high.
Players Left on the Board
Recall, if you will, that this is not a draft board reflecting general player quality or an attempt to guess the NFL’s feelings on the players. This board was my attempt to estimate how the Lions would feel about players. There were still two guys on the board that I had ranked higher than Hockenson. The players that went before the Lions first pick are red in the new board. The players drafted before the Lions second pick are highlighted in green. Devin Bush and Garret Bradbury were a tier higher than Hockenson. I’ve been wrong before, and undoubtedly will again.
The Lions can still grab a starting interior offensive lineman, but the rest of the field is going to spend some time on the bench. Only two wide receivers went in round one. A long term option there could be found in Deebo Samuel, or A. J. Brown, in the second, and Terry McLaurin, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, or Hakeem Butler.
By the time the third round rolls around 55 more players will have come off the board. That is a little more difficult to predict with any accuracy, but corners, wide receivers, and running backs of quality that the Lions have expressed interest in will be there.