The Detroit Lions’ decision to spend their No. 8 draft pick on a tight end – Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson – resulted in a mixed bag of opinions by NFL coaches, executives and evaluators who were granted anonymity by ESPN.
The Lions passed on players such as Houston DT Ed Oliver, Michigan LB Devin Bush and Florida State DE Brian Burns to take Hockenson in the first round.
"They got a solid tight end,” one NFL personnel director told ESPN. “He doesn't scare you as a receiving threat, but he is a solid blocker. He was probably the best overall tight end."
A second Iowa tight end was taken later in the first round, Noah Fant, by Denver with the No. 20 pick.
"It wasn't even close for me personally between Hockenson and Fant,” an NFL executive said. “I thought Hockenson was awesome. If we had been in position to trade up for him, I would have done it in a heartbeat and would not have blinked.”
One NFL talent evaluator, however, said unless Hockenson becomes the next Rob Gronkowski, the Lions will be guilty of reaching:
"If you think Hockenson is Rob Gronkowski, great, but he is not that. The only time you draft a tight end in the first round is if you're getting an absolute freak who is athletically unique. Vernon Davis was that and he's still playing. To use a top-10 pick, that guy has to be Gronk."