Mel Kiper on T.J. Hockenson: Detroit Lions 'thinking Rob Gronkowski'
The Detroit Lions drafted Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson on Thursday in Nashville, Tennessee. Here's what ESPN and NFL Network pundits had to say about the pick:
Mel Kiper, Jr.
"He's got a basketball background. He's nearly 6-5, 250 – talking about an athlete. ... You can see him blocking there and as well getting downfield with that release, sealing the edge. He's a throwback to the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. He can block, get down the field, make the catch. You see Bob Quinn, the GM, is thinking Rob Gronkowski. You can think about how he added Jesse James, bringing him in in free agency. Now you bring in TJ Hockenson, who is an offensive (threat) for Matthew Stafford now. You have Kenny Golladay, you have Marvin Jones, you have Tommylee Lewis and Kerryon Johnson at running back and Danny Amendola in the slot. Now you get a guy who can block for Kerryon Johnson and can be another option for Matthew Stafford on third-down situations. In red zone situations, you can go to Hockenson and he can bring down the football."
"When you're Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia and you were in New England and watched what Rob Gronkowski could do as an in-line tight end, you appreciate a guy like T.J. Hockenson. Now, he's not Rob Gronkowski. Not that big, not quite that athletic. He's a dominant run blocker and he's more than adequate in the passing game. Gets open, catches everything. He's going to be great in the red zone. And now they get basically another offensive lineman. That's how good this kid is in the run game."
"...What I love about his game: he's my favorite player in the draft. He's not the best player in the draft. But he's my favorite player in this draft class. He's dominant in the run game. He's a savvy underrated route runner in my opinion. Heath Miller and Jason Witten, those are the two names that came to mind when I watched the video. ... He's got outstanding hands. You rarely see him drop the football. ... You can see the Patriots would appreciate this more than anybody and the Detroit Lions have become New England Patriots Midwest."
"They need some more juice still at wide receiver, but they needed production out of the tight end position. They only had 45 receptions at the tight end position last year, which simply isn't good enough. TJ is going to give you the run block, he can seal the edges. He's also one of these guys who is sneaky fast down the field who can rip off some big plays."
"You know how much we love tight ends at Stanford. I watched this guys film and could not get enough.I love the way this kid plays. Reminded me a lot of Zach Ertz in the passing game. This guy runs a 4.7 (40-yard dash). He's fast. He's explosive. This guy gets open repeatedly on everybody. Deep routes, short routes, underneath routes. And he will stick his face in your face and block you at the line of scrimmage."
"When you talk about philosophy, you have Kerryon Johnson. Now you can start to establish some physicality in the running game. What happens is the safety and the linebackers start to come up, so you can work the middle of the field with the play-action pass. This is a pick that goes with the philosophy of how you're building your team. Detroit wants to be physical, and now they can go play action and give Matthew Stafford somebody open down the field."