The NFL Draft is officially underway and the Detroit Lions have made their first-round selection. They decided to go with Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson to the delight of some fans and the dismay of others.
To me, this pick made too much sense to ignore. The Lions’ tight end corps was so bad in 2018 that the team absolutely needed a complete turnaround at the position. They did just that by signing Jesse James and drafting Hockenson.
I know some Lions fans are scared of a repeat of Eric Ebron. I get that. But Hockenson was not just the best tight end in draft like Eric Ebron was. Hockenson is one of the best overall players in the entire draft. There are scouts out there comparing Hock to his predecessor George Kittle. If the Lions can get that type of production of Hock, this offense is going places.
But don’t take my word for it. Take the words of the guys that have been watching Hockenson grow in Iowa. We got in touch with our friend Ben Ross from Black Heart Gold Pants to see what he had to say about the Lions new tight end. Here’s his answers.
POD: What are your overall thoughts on Hockenson’s time in Iowa?
BHGP: “Hockenson was the total embodiment of the Hawkeye Way. I’ll wait for your readers to stop making jerkoff motions before I continue.
What I mean by that is, Hockenson came into Iowa City out of Chariton, IA—a town of about 4,000—with only one other power-5 offer, and that was to Iowa State. Now, he’s the reigning Mackey Award winner, a top-10 NFL Draft pick as a junior and a millionaire. He’s even got a country song dedicated in his honor:
By all accounts Hockenson wasn’t anything short of a coach’s and fan’s dream at Iowa: a quiet leader who showed up to work and got better everyday. I was disappointed to learn he was declaring early, but he’s now a millionaire and I’m running a blog called Black Heart Gold Pants, so what do I know.”
POD: What are his strengths?
BHGP: “His strengths are numerous. I’ll start with his blocking; though he hasn’t seen Khalil Mack or Everson Griffen yet, I’m pretty confident in saying that he’s pretty close to being an NFL-caliber blocking tight end already.
Measuring at 6-5, 271 he’s already a big frame for Matt Stafford to find in any and all passing situations, and I can’t recall a time he dropped a pass at Iowa. He’s as sure-handed as they come, and even though his top-end speed isn’t that fast clocking a 4.71 40 at the combine, he had the fastest shuttle time among all tight ends at the draft and ran a blistering three-cone drill. He’ll be a great locker room guy and a fan favorite. He flew his best friend from high school out to the draft as his guest, he got a ”Go Hawks” from Bob Stoops, and he wore his team-issued suit to the draft. I mean come on.”
POD: What are his weaknesses?
BHGP: “His weaknesses? I dunno, he’s not named Gronkowski?”
POD: What kind of an impact can Hockenson have right away?
BHGP: “I have a tough time saying Hockenson will have an immediate impact simply because he’s a rookie tight end, and it seems like Jesse James is going to be your No. 1 guy? Peculiar roster construction there. As much as I do like to dunk on Detroit, I think Stafford is a hell of a gunslinger who’s been stashed in a dungeon, so I also wouldn’t be surprised if he all of a sudden has a George Kittle-impact on your Kitties.
If he can crack around 700 yards and 5 or so touchdowns as a rookie you gotta be happy, right? That seems realistic.”
POD: who got the better pick? Detroit with Hockenson or Denver with Fant?
BHGP: “So I’m not going to say who I think the better pick is because team needs yada yada. I do think Fant is going to have a better career simply because of his speed and his aversion to contact (compared to Hockenson). I think both players have really high floors, but I see more Jimmy Graham in Fant than I do Gronk in Hockenson, know what I mean?
And actually, I will criticize Detroit a little bit here; taking a tight end in the top-10 puts Hockenson in a tough position. I mean he’s basically gotta be a perennial all-pro for that to pay off I feel like. There’s going to be a lot of pressure on him from fans as the Matt Stafford candle begins to flicker here, and Matt Patricia is probably going to give him one hell of a workload as he’s determined to prove he just drafted the next Gronk while his dad watches from New England.”
Thank you to Ben Ross and Black Heart Gold Pants. Ben informed me Thursday night that he is a lifelong Vikings fan. We encourage you to ridicule him relentlessly on Twitter for his poor life choice.