It’s a topic that every Detroit Lions fan fears, but it’s one that’s absolutely worth exploring. The Lions have a big need at tight end (again), and with the eighth overall pick, Detroit will have a very good chance at nabbing the very best one the 2019 NFL Draft has to offer.
But the biggest question about making a decision like that is simply: would it be worth it? Many debate whether the position of tight end—even if you grab the very best in the league—is worth the capital equal to the eighth overall pick. Positions like pass rushers, quarterbacks, or play-making receivers and tight ends provide more bang for the buck, some argue.
However, Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn rejected that notion on Wednesday morning at the NFL Combine.
“If there’s a player that’s worthy of the eighth overall pick and he happens to be a tight end, then I’m not against that,” Quinn said. “It’s a little bit early in the process to say who that player may or may not be, but I don’t have any guidelines that I’ve ever developed over my years in scouting that say you can’t take a player at this position at that number. I don’t think that way.”
The player that has gotten the most play as a potential top-10 pick this year is Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson. As we profiled here, Hockenson is a perfect blend of size and athleticism, and has shown a knack for both blocking and receiving. Though Quinn didn’t mention Hockenson directly, he did note that one tough part in scouting tight ends was the college game’s tendency to split tight ends into the slot, leaving them with little tape as in-line blockers.
Bob Quinn said one challenge in scouting college TEs is that many don't get a lot of reps in blocking, as NCAA mostly spreads them out in the slot.— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) February 27, 2019
Of course, it’s probably wise not to read too much into these comments. When asked why Quinn said quarterback could potentially be on the table for the eighth overall pick during the Lions’ season ticket holder event a couple weeks back, Quinn gave almost the exact same answer as he did regarding the tight end spot.
“I’m never going to say yes or no to one position at a specific time,” Quinn said. “If I have someone graded that high, I’m never going to say that I can’t take a... whatever position it is, running back, receiver, quarterback, at whatever number it is. If I do that, I’m eliminating guys off the board, and part of what we do is—like I’ve talked about since I’ve been here—is try to blend best available and need. So sometimes it’s a combination of both.”
That being said, Quinn made it pretty clear he doesn’t share the same philosophy that some Lions fans do. He thinks tight end is on the table in the top 10 provided the right prospect is there. The question is whether anyone in this class has that worth to him.
And, yes, here’s your daily reminder that it is also Smoke Screen Season.