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2019 NFL predictions: Who will be the Detroit Lions’ rookie of the year?

Our staff is swept up in T.J. Hockenson hype.

Detroit Lions v Houston Texans Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions’ 2018 draft class will be a tough one for this year’s to measure up to. The Lions got immediate and solid contributions from Frank Ragnow, Kerryon Johnson, Da’Shawn Hand and Tracy Walker. Many of those players will play even bigger roles this year.

As for the 2019 class, expectations are obviously high for the Lions’ eighth overall pick T.J. Hockenson. But will anyone else emerge from the pack like Hand did last year?

Here are our picks for Detroit Lions Rookie of the Year.


Justin Simon: T.J. Hockenson

Hockenson is the easy choice, but I don’t think anyone else will be close. Hockenson probably won’t be a yards monster this year, but I think he could crack double-digit touchdowns if things break his way.

Jeremy Reisman: T.J. Hockenson

Here’s the part where I’m supposed to tell you to be cautious of Hockenson’s rookie-year progress. Tight end is the toughest position to adjust to in the NFL, first-year tight ends notoriously struggle, blah blah blah.

I’m here to tell you to throw caution to the wind. Hockenson will finish in the top 10 of every major tight end stat. So go buy 50 Hockenson jerseys. Draft him in the first round of your fantasy draft. Buy advertising space on “Talking with T.J.” Season 3. Dude is going to be a stud.

Chris Perfett: T.J. Hockenson

his question was sent to me by Jeremy in an effort to waste my time writing out an obvious answer. Unfortunately, it has worked. There’s not another rookie that’s close to seeing the amount of work that Hockenson will do. With the lack of other options at tight end, it just reinforces the matter.

Stafford works best with a release valve, be it Calvin Johnson, Anquan Boldin or Golden Tate. If things break down he needs a safe place to look, to let tension out and just throw, baby, throw. That’s the role Hockenson will have to take on as a receiver. If he can block as well, all the better for him.

Andrew Kato: Jahlani Tavai

MLB Jahlani Tavai will become a starter by the middle of the season. Whether this is due to injury (hope not) or rapid development (WANT), Tavai taking over as a big tackling machine will let defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni and head coach Matt Patricia do all kinds of funky pass rush stuff with the other linebackers. Allowing Jarrad Davis to be a free roaming assassin is particularly appealing.

John Whiticar: T.J. Hockenson

T.J. Hockenson will be the Lions’ rookie of the year in 2019. I really wanted to go outside of the box and not pick the first-round tight end, but Hockenson is too good not to take the title. I’m not keen on his competition either, as only Jahlani Tavai figures to see a starting role.

Hamza Baccouche: T.J. Hockenson

It’s gotta be T.J. He has proven himself to be as good as advertised thus far in the preseason, and he and Stafford seem to have a very natural connection. He will play a critical role in the establishment of Matt Patricia’s long-awaited power running offense, and with Darrell Bevell’s tendency to use play-action (especially to complement said power running) the spotlight and the targets will both be allllll over the tight ends.

I think Tavai has potential, but the learning curve for an NFL linebacker is quite steep (not that tight end isn’t, but Hock seems to be adjusting extremely quickly) and Will Harris isn’t ready to step into a starting role at safety yet.

Kyle Yost: T.J. Hockenson

The boring answer is T.J. Hockenson, but he is probably the right one. Across the nation, the rookie tight end has been getting love since draft night, and his complete game will fit perfectly with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s scheme. Rookie tight ends are notoriously modest on the stat sheet, but factoring in Hockenson’s blocking and versatility, he will easily be the most productive first-year player in Detroit this season.

Ryan Mathews: Jahlani Tavai

The Lions rookie of the year is going to be Jahlani Tavai—surprise!

For as much backlash the Lions front office faced from fans when they chose Tavai in the second round, all it took was a few months and an injury scare last week for fans to start using Tavai as their methadone. After soothing their scaries by singing Tavai’s praises and convincing themselves the Lions were no worse for wear after Jarrad Davis’ injury, the pendulum has officially swung the other way.

At the bottom line, Tavai is talented, has an uber-talented defensive front capable of making his job all that much easier, and maybe most importantly of all, he has the opportunity.

Mike Payton: T.J. Hockenson

T.J. Hockenson will be more than you hoped he would be. If you were expecting a rookie tight end to come out and be a rookie tight end who struggles to acclimate to the NFL game, that’s not what you’re going to get. The kid is legit and he’s ready. I would get ready to see Stafford-to-Hockenson be the new thing in Detroit as soon as Week 1 begins. We’ve been wrong about rookies before, but Hockenson just has a different feel to him.


Who will be the Lions’ rookie of the year in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 82%
    T.J. Hockenson
    (643 votes)
  • 10%
    Jahlani Tavai
    (78 votes)
  • 1%
    Will Harris
    (13 votes)
  • 3%
    Amani Oruwariye
    (25 votes)
  • 2%
    (17 votes)
776 votes total Vote Now