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2020 NFL Combine preview: Tight ends the Detroit Lions should watch

The Detroit Lions restocked their tight end room in 2019, but that shouldn’t keep them from watching this crop.

Boston College v Notre Dame Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

When the Detroit Lions completely retooled their tight end room to start the 2019 season, nobody was surprised. The trio of Luke Willson, Levine Toilolo, and Michael Roberts were among the worst in the NFL for 2018, so it made sense when the Lions targeted Jesse James in free agency and T.J. Hockenson in the draft. From top to bottom it was a new group, and the results were... mixed. Hockenson came out hot but then quickly hit that rookie wall, while Jesse James struggled mightily all year to make any noticeable impact.

While I doubt the team makes it much of a priority, it wouldn’t surprise me if they look to this year’s tight end class to potentially supplement a flailing group, and with no top-tier talent to worry about the Lions reaching for, the value is certainly where it should be.

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Note: All RAS links will be updated during and after the Combine with official and tentative metrics. This will continue throughout the draft season.

Adam Trautman, Dayton

Adam Trautman RAS

Scouting ReportsWhat's On Draft | The Draft Network | NFL Mocks | With the First Pick | Bleacher Report | NFL Draft Diamonds | This player is a prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. All metrics that have been recorded are unofficial if the metric is highlighted in yellow.

Looking the athletic marvel on tape, Trautman possesses the size and speed you want from a play-making tight end in the NFL. A relative unknown to start the draft season, Trautman became a common name among draft experts after his work in the Senior Bowl practices caught their attention, and it’s expected he finds his way into a day two selection. It’s unlikely the Lions jump at him, but with the Bears failing harder on Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen than the Lions did on James, and the Packers needing help in that room as well, it doesn’t hurt to get a good look at a potential rival.

Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri

Albert Okwuegbunam RAS

Scouting ReportsWhat's On Draft | The Draft Network | With the First Pick | Blue Chip Scouting | This player is a prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. All metrics that have been recorded are unofficial if the metric is highlighted in yellow. Once the NFL Draft has concluded, player scores will be finalized and...

Entering the 2019 season as a pretty much consensus TE1, Okwuegbunam saw his stock plummet throughout the season and many consider him a day three talent now. Injuries played a big part of that, but his lack of development both as a receiver and a blocker likely played just as large of a part.

Okwuegbunam needs to make a huge impression at the Combine to bring his stock back up to any semblance of where he started the year, but where it’s at right now is perfect for a team like the Lions who probably don’t want to spend big at the position.

Cole Kmet, Notre Dame

Cole Kmet RAS

Scouting ReportsNFL Mocks | Pats Pulpit | NFL Draft Geek | The Draft Network | Pro Football Network | NFL Draft Lounge | Steelers Depot | Tankathon | Bear Goggles On | This player is a prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. All metrics that have been recorded are unofficial if the metric is highlighted...

An undersized in-line tight end who broke out in 2019 for a team known for producing tight end talent, Kmet appears to be your typical receiving tight end in that he’s fine when you’re asking him to chip and release or run a route from the line or slot. However, it’s a bit more troublesome once he’s asked to block for any length of time. I’ve heard some criticize ball control issues, but I didn’t see that in limited viewing.

Brycen Hopkins, Purdue

Brycen Hopkins RAS

Scouting ReportsWhat's On Draft | The Draft Network | Pro Football Network | Tankathon | With the First Pick | Steelers Depot | This player is a prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. All metrics that have been recorded are unofficial if the metric is highlighted in yellow.

One of the best route runners of this class at the position, I became concerned about Hopkins’ other traits as a tight end upon watching him. While he runs a very pretty route tree, his hands aren’t very good and his blocking is among the worst I’ve seen this season. He’s a true developmental prospect at the position who has a handle on the hardest part to teach but few of the basics.

Thaddeus Moss, Louisiana State

Thaddeus Moss RAS

Scouting ReportsWindy City Gridiron | This player is a prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft. All metrics that have been recorded are unofficial if the metric is highlighted in yellow. Once the NFL Draft has concluded, player scores will be finalized and the prospect card will be replaced with an official card.

Any time you get a big name like Moss hitting the circuit, you’ve got to pay attention. He may be the son of one of the greatest receivers of all time, but don’t get too drawn in and start thinking of him as a day one or two talent just based on that. Moss is likely going day three, but a strong showing at the Combine may make teams take notice. On top of his expected athletic talents, Moss hauled in 47 catches in 2019 without a single drop.

The Others

Charlie Taumoepeau, Portland State (RAS)

An undersized H-back type, Taumoepeau is expected to test among the best in this group at the Combine. At that size, it would hurt him significantly if he does not.

Charlie Woerner, Georgia (RAS)

A solid blocker with steady athletic ability on tape, Woerner is a player I think the Lions might value more than most if they do decide to bolster the position this year.

Cheyenne O’Grady, Arkansas (RAS)

Pretty average or above in most traits, I’ve heard the same kind of quiet hype I did for Drew Sample last year (minus the elite run blocking). Sample ultimately went in the second round, O’Grady could see a similar bump with a strong Combine showing.

Colby Parkinson, Stanford (RAS)

One of the biggest tight ends in this class, Parkinson is one I’m watching closely to see if he can measure at least above average at the Combine—generally an issue for larger players.

Dalton Keene, Virginia Tech (RAS)

A versatile flex option who can line up anywhere, Keene would be an interesting fit in Darrell Bevell’s offense if they weren’t pleased with Isaac Nauta last season.

Devin Asiasi, UCLA (RAS)

Productive player who used to play for Michigan before transferring and breaking out on the west coast. A strong Combine showing could see him rise.

Dominick Wood-Anderson, Tennessee (RAS)

A thickly-built blocking type, Wood-Anderson wasn’t very productive for the Vols, so he would need to show he has value in the receiving game.

Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic (RAS)

Quick and agile but not all that fast on tape, Bryant needs to show NFL scouts that he can be a physical presence in the middle to improve his draft stock.

Hunter Bryant, Washington (RAS)

Undersized, but appears to have plenty of athletic upside to build with. Hands are a problem, so expect his name to be a hot one at the Gauntlet.

Jacob Breeland, Oregon (RAS)

Everything I’ve seen on tape and from reports suggests athletic red flags. He’ll have a chance to put those to bed and build on solid, if unspectacular, tape.

Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt (RAS)

Doesn't appear to be a plus athlete or significant receiving threat, but has good hands and a fair TE2 underneath route tree.

Josiah Deguara, Cincinnati (RAS)

A bit undersized for the role, but an excellent blocking tight end. May see some work as an H-back.

Mitchell Wilcox, South Florida (RAS)

Developmental H-back type who showed some versatility to move along the line.

Sean McKeon, Michigan (RAS)

Fairly high-floor player who could see a roster right out of the gate, but his ceiling doesn't look very high.

Stephen Sullivan, Louisiana State (RAS)

Large receiver with almost no use as a blocker. He’s expected to have a big week at the Combine that could help his stock.

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