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NFL executives weigh in on Detroit Lions’ 1st, 2nd-round picks

A look at what NFL insiders thought of the Lions’ early draft picks.

NCAA Football: Navy at Hawaii Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to a war room video, we already know the Buffalo Bills think of the Detroit Lions’ selection of T.J. Hockenson with the eighth overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. But what do other league executives think of Detroit’s haul last weekend?

ESPN’s Mike Sando pulled opinions from various coaches, executives and draft evaluators around the league to evaluate the picks of all 32 teams.

And it may surprise some to see that they were actually very complimentary towards Detroit’s first two selections.

One NFL executive was apparently enamored with Hockenson and viewed him as high-and-above the rest of the tight end draft class.

“It wasn’t even close for me personally between Hockenson and Fant,” the anonymous executive said. “I thought Hockenson was awesome. If we had been in position to trade up for him, I would have done it in a heartbeat and would not have blinked.”

Of course, the question of value came into play here, too. One evaluator thinks you only draft a tight end that early if you’re getting an extremely unique talent. They don’t think Hockenson is that guy.

“If you think Hockenson is Rob Gronkowski, great, but he is not that,” an evaluator said. “The only time you draft a tight end in the first round is if you’re getting an absolute freak who is athletically unique. Vernon Davis was that and he’s still playing. To use a top-10 pick, that guy has to be Gronk.”

While that debate will rage on, the Lions’ second-round pick Jahlani Tavai has drawn just as much varied opinions. The pick shocked a lot of media members, but it wasn’t at all surprising to those inside the NFL ranks.

”Hockenson was my favorite guy and then they got Tavai, who is perfect for them and someone we thought New England would take,” an evaluator said. “Tavai is a big, strong, tough linebacker who can play special teams. It makes sense he would end up there.”

You can read reactions to all 32 teams here (ESPN Insider required).