They say an NFL team should expect to find starter-level talent in the first three rounds of the draft. That may not always come in the players’ first years, but the talent pool every year seems to be deep enough for that statement to generally hold true.
For the Detroit Lions, that means—at the very least—they should expect the likes of tight end T.J. Hockenson, linebacker Jahlani Tavai, and safety Will Harris to be impact players at some point during their rookie contract.
But not all will have as big of an impact in the 2019 season. Every player takes the transition to the NFL differently, and some positions are tougher to adjust to at the next level.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
Which Lions draft pick will have the best rookie season?
My answer: Honestly, I don’t think anyone should be expected to make a huge rookie impact other than Hockenson. As a top-10 pick, Hockenson’s impact should be immediate and huge, even though tight ends can sometimes struggle to adjust. Hockenson has had enough experience in a pro-style offense at Iowa that his transition shouldn’t be too difficult.
But perhaps more importantly, it’s hard to see any other rookie really having a huge impact in their rookie season. Tavai and Harris aren’t likely to be Week 1 starters given Detroit’s current depth at each position, and while they almost certainly will eventually take over a significant role on defense, I wouldn’t be surprised if that didn’t happen until at least October or November, if that early.
So when it comes to 2019 contributions, expect the story of the rookie class to be squarely on Hockenson’s shoulders.