The Detroit Lions’ 2019 rookie class didn’t have its best year. In fact, NFL.com listed them as the worst rookie class in the NFC North. Whether it was due to injuries, slow progression or just the lack of an opportunity to play, the Lions didn’t get a ton of positive contributions from their rookies, and that has to be a disappointment given the fact that Detroit had a top-10 pick.
Still, there were some performances worth acknowledging. Here are your nominees for 2019 Detroit Lions Rookie of the Year.
Stats: 12 games: 32 catches, 367 yards, 2 TDs
Hockenson exploded onto the scene by setting a record for most receiving yards in a tight end’s NFL debut by pulling in 131 yards and a touchdown in Week 1.
Unfortunately, it was a steep decline from there, but Hockenson still showed flashes of why the Lions took him with the eighth overall pick. Because the Lions had so many weapons—and because of more attention following his debut—Hockenson’s production waned as the season went on, and unfortunately, a bad injury ended his season a month early.
Still, there was plenty to like about Hockenson’s rookie season and lots of optimism going forward.
Stats: 15 games: 57 tackles, 5 TFLs, 2.0 sacks, 1 FF
Detroit’s biggest surprise on draft day also turned out to be one of the Lions’ most pleasant surprises on the field. The Lions took it slowly with Tavai’s development, but injuries to Jarrad Davis forced him into the lineup earlier than they would’ve liked.
Eventually, Tavai slid in nicely. He often took on some serious responsibilities for a rookie, including being the primary play-caller and working the middle of the field.
He still has a lot to prove, and his speed is still in question, but it was a decent rookie year for the Lions’ second-round pick.
Stats: 9 games: 18 tackles, 2 INTs
Undoubtedly the Lions’ most popular pick on draft day, Oruwariye made Draft Twitter scouts look smart in his limited play in 2019. Though he was mostly sidelined behind Rashaan Melvin, Oruwariye made the absolute most of his time when he was in the lineup.
He was far from perfect, getting beat badly on a few plays, but he also notched two interceptions, which is the most from a Lions cornerback not named Darius Slay since Cassius Vaughn (!!!!) in 2014, who also notched two in a season.
The fact that Oruwariye was able to do it with just two starts to his name is certainly promising.
Who was the Lions’ 2019 Rookie of the Year?
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