What they're saying: Analysts weigh in on Lions' haul in NFL Draft

The Detroit News
The Lions made T.J. Hockenson the third tight end they've selected in the first round round in the past decade.

The Lions 2019 NFL Draft is complete, and experts are weighing in with, for the most part, positive reviews.

A look through the grades from national analysts reveals plenty of Bs, though at least one writer wasn't a fan of the Lions' work this weekend.

Here's a roundup of the what they're saying about the Lions draft (listed alphabetically):

Andy Benoit, NFL analyst, Sports Illustrated

Benoit gave the Lions a B-plus.

"Head coach Matt Patricia is determined to shape the Lions into a Patriots-style offense, and obviously finding a five-tool tight end is a strong first step. It’s too much to say T.J. Hockenson will be the next Rob Gronkowski, but Hockenson is one of the highest-rated tight end prospects of this century. His blocking is even more touted than his receiving —an important note given Detroit’s two-decade-long effort to improve its feeble ground game.

"Friday’s picks were spent on buttressing the defensive back seven. Jahlani Tavai has the thumping size that Patricia, who also takes a Patriots-style approach on defense, covets. Will Harris provides crucial depth, as Patricia likes to play with three, and sometimes four, safeties on the field. The question is whether Harris can immediately take snaps from veteran Tavon Wilson, who is unlikely to be re-signed after this season. It will come down to how trusted Harris is in man coverages, either as a matchup player or roving middle-of-the-field defender. He isn’t needed in a major role right away considering last year’s third-rounder, Tracy Walker, is ready for fulltime centerfield duties and strong safety Quandre Diggs remains the best player that most fans have never heard of.

"The rest of the draft was focused on adding depth to a roster that, thanks to an active free agency, was not lacking in any particular first-string position. One player to keep an eye on is Amani Oruwariye, a long-armed press corner who, thanks to 2017 second-rounder Teez Tabor’s disconcerting inconsistency, could get a closer look than most fifth-round picks."

Will Brinson, senior writer, CBS Sports

Brinson listed the Lions among his NFL Draft "losers."

" ... Jahlani Tavai out of Hawaii helps as a linebacker (I thought they could have gone Devin Bush in the first round) and I don't necessarily dislike their picks. But I'm confused as to what their identity is moving forward. Are the Lions going to pound the rock while paying Matthew Stafford massive amounts of money? Are they going to line up three tight ends and try to feed Kerryon Johnson?

"Even if it all works out they have to do it in a division where the Packers got demonstrably better (Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage in the first round alone) and the Vikings added a center (Garrett Bradbury) who could ignite their running game and Dalvin Cook's one-cut, zone-running potential. The NFC North is tough and the Lions just didn't feel like they had the sauce they needed from this draft. "

Vinnie Iyer, NFL writer, Sporting News

Iyer ranked the Lions' draft class 19th among 32 NFL teams, giving them a C-plus.

"Bob Quinn made it clear the Lions want to embrace their physical identity based on running and defensive success. Hockenson was a home run for blocking and receiving, and although there were some reaches for the front seven and secondary, they got several versatile players Matt Patricia can mold well."

Dan Kadar, NFL Draft editor, SB Nation

Kadar gave the Lions a B.

"There’s a discussion to be had about the value of taking a tight end in the top 10. But if you’re going to do that — as the Lions did with T.J. Hockenson at No. 8 — then take a sure thing. This helps further turn the Lions into the Patriotsof the Rust Belt. Really, that was the theme of the draft. Linebacker Jahlani Tavai was a reach at No. 43 but a player the Patriots supposedly wanted.

"The Lions traded up for Boston College safety Will Harris. He’s not flashy, but he has experience and should be solid. Clemson defensive end Austin Bryant can be moved around. Cornerback Amani Oruwariye has size and ball skills. His technique needs a lot of work, though"

Mel Kiper Jr., draft analyst, ESPN

Kiper gave the Lions a B-minus.

"The Patriots' influence is real in Detroit. GM Bob Quinn and coach Matt Patricia, of course, both spent years working alongside Bill Belichick, and this offseason has seen the Lions add some players directly from the Belichick catalogue. Pass-rusher Trey Flowers, drafted by Belichick, got a huge deal in Detroit. Danny Amendola, who spent five seasons catching passes from Tom Brady, signed with the Lions on a short-term deal.

"And then the Lions took in Round 1 the tight end they hope will be their Rob Gronkowski in T.J. Hockenson, one of the most pro-ready tight ends I've scouted in the last decade. He's advanced as a blocker — he consistently piledrives edge defenders —and will contribute in the passing game, lined up in the slot or outside the tackle. My comp for him has been longtime Steeler Heath Miller, a really good player. Hockenson is the third tight end the Lions have drafted in the first round since 2009, the most by any team in that span.

"Elsewhere, you know Belichick likes versatile defenders, and these picks fit the style Patricia wants to play in Detroit. Jahlani Tavai (No. 43) is a tackling machine. I had a fourth-round grade on him. Will Harris (No. 81) ran a 4.41-second 40 at the combine and will be in the rotation at safety. Austin Bryant(No. 117) went under the radar among Clemson's supertalented defensive line, but he's a steady end who will thrive in a 4-3. I also like the value of Amani Oruwariye (No. 146) and Travis Fulgham (No. 184) on Day 3.

"All in all, this is a solid if unspectacular class. If there's an issue, it's about not addressing the other defensive end spot in Round 2 with some good players on the board."

Chad Reuter, draft analyst, NFL.com

Reuter gave the Lions an overall grade of B, while breaking down each day:

Day 1 grade: B+ 

Day 2 grade: B-

Day 3 grade: A

"I love Hockenson as a two-way tight end prospect. He will be a strong target for Matthew Stafford and a nice blocker in the run game. But he wasn't the top player available: it was defensive tackle Ed Oliver. Time will tell which way they should have gone with that pick.

"Tavai was picked earlier than expected, much like Kyle Van Noy was a few years ago, though NFL scouts believe Tavai can become a starter. The Van Noy pick didn't work out for the Lions, but hopefully this one will. Trading up for Harris helped the Lions meet a need at safety and he was an appropriate value.

"Even with Trey Flowers in the fold, adding another pass rusher in Bryant made a lot of sense. Getting a big corner was a must, so I'm on board with the Oruwariye pick. The Lions needed the depth they added at running back and receiver, too -- and I can't fault them for taking Nauta in the seventh to join Hockenson. Johnson could eventually replace Damon Harrison, who's signed through 2020."