Detroit’s overall strategy in free agency has done little to impact the way they’ll approach this year’s NFL Draft. With a bunch of one-year contracts being handed out this offseason—Tyrell Williams, Josh Hill, Alex Anzalone, Corn Elder, and most recently Dean Marlowe just to name a few—Detroit’s long-term plan at a variety of positions is still to be determined.
One position where the Lions do have a clear plan in place at the top of their depth chart is the tight end position. T.J. Hockenson will be entering his third year in Detroit, coming off an impressive Pro Bowl season in 2020 where he totaled 67 catches for 723 yards and six touchdowns. The aforementioned Hill will fill a role, primarily as a blocker, but he’s a capable pass catcher if the play gets called.
So does that take tight end off the board for the Lions when they’re picking at No. 7?
In his most recent profile, Twentyman provided some insight into Florida’s tight end Kyle Pitts, a player anticipated by many draft analysts to be a top-10 pick in this year’s draft.
Pitts racked up 770 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns in eight games this past season, earning the highest grade (96.2) Pro Football Focus has ever given to a pass catcher. Pitts is built like a tight end (6-6, 245) but runs like a receiver. He has an amazing 83 3/8-inch wing span and ran the 40 in 4.44 seconds at Florida’s pro day last week.
Even with the Lions better situated at tight end than just about every other position on the roster, the chance to take Pitts with the seventh overall pick in the draft is something Detroit shouldn’t shy away from given his skillset. Pitts himself explained how his pairing with Hockenson could create some headaches for opponents.
“I think it would cause a lot of problems,” Pitts said of potentially playing with a veteran tight end like Hockenson. “Because you have two great tight ends who can run routes and block. That kind of makes it hard for the defense to scheme it up. Having those two tight ends that can do different things, line up in different areas, that’s something that’s kind of difficult for the defense to guard.”
However, the Lions might not even have the chance to take Pitts with the seventh overall pick. There’s a distinct possibility Pitts could become the highest-drafted tight end since Vernon Davis was selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.