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Detroit Lions May Scouting Report
James Hintz

This was a pretty ho-hum draft from the Lions. Not a lot of wheeling and dealing; they moved up a little in round 3 and moved down in round 4. They filled positions of need and added depth at other positions. Let’s break down the picks.

1.8 (8) TE TJ Hockenson, Iowa. He was a popular pick in the mock drafts even if he wasn’t a popular pick among fans. You could make an argument that Ed Oliver or Devin Bush, the players who went right after Hockenson, would have been better picks for the Lions. But Hockenson clearly fills a need. Yes, the Lions had signed TE Jesse James in free agency, but Hockenson will have a chance to make an impact in the passing game and the running game as he is a good blocker. Expect to see a lot of two tight end formations from the Detroit offense. His blocking will be an asset to Detroit’s run-heavy scheme. It is well known that rookie tight ends struggle to put up big fantasy numbers, so my early instinct is that he isn’t really draftable in redraft leagues, but I would give him good value in dynasty league. I could see this guy having a long, solid career a la Jason Witten for example.

2.11 (43) LB Jahlani Tavai, Hawai’i. A bit of a controversial pick, as the experts did not have this guy rated as a second rounder. Was he a reach? Perhaps, but Matt Patricia wants big linebackers in his scheme, and they felt like Tavai would have been gone by their next pick at 88, so they grabbed him here. It would seem LB Jarrad Davis is still safe for now as the middle linebacker and his IDP production won’t suffer the way it could’ve if Bush had been picked. Bush could have played the middle and bumped Davis outside.

3.25 (88) S Will Harris, Boston College. Second year in a row the Lions take a safety in round 3. With Glover Quin gone, there is going to be competition for playing time at safety. I saw one observer suggest Harris had the skill set to play corner, so I would look for Harris to begin his career as a special teams player who develops into a nickel defender who has the versatility Patricia loves.

4.15 (117) DE Austin Bryant, Clemson. There were three Clemson defensive linemen that went in round 1, so I guess Bryant was the slacker of the group. I kid of course. He was clearly surrounded by talented teammates at Clemson, and he could become part of the Lions pass rush rotation this fall.

5.8 (146) CB Amani Oruwariye, Penn State. This was the opposite of the Tavai pick, as Oruwariye was rated much higher than a fifth rounder by most rankings, so this is a potential steal. It’s worth noting that the Lions went all defense from round 2 to 5, as they are focusing on building the defense up to be the strength of the team.

6.11 (184) WR Travis Fulgham, Old Dominion. I thought the Lions might look for more of a slot receiver, as veteran WR Danny Amendola is not a long term answer in the slot. But Fulgham profiles as an outside receiver listed at about 6’2 and 215 pounds with good hands, body control, and an ability to make contested catches. I would expect him to make the team as the 4th or 5th receiver.

6.13 (186) RB Ty Johnson, Maryland. Not a big back, he has some experience with kickoff returns, so he could compete for that role. I don’t think he is enough of a pass catching back to push Theo Riddick off the roster, so expect Riddick to keep the third down back job. He put up some eye popping yards per carry numbers at Maryland but who knows how well that will translate to the pros.

7.10 (224) TE Isaac Nauta, Georgia. Nauta dropped to round 7 after some shaky numbers at the combine. Not a lot of sure things behind Hockenson and James, so he could end up anywhere from the #3 tight end to down on the practice squad. He’s listed at 6’3 and 244 pounds.

7.15 (229) DT PJ Johnson, Arizona. This guy is a big run stuffer. He might only be able to do one thing, but if he can do it well enough he could make the team as a backup.

UDFA (skill positions only): WR Jonathan Duhart, Old Dominion, TE Nate Becker, Miami (OH)-WAIVED, TE Donald Parham, Stetson-WAIVED. WR Tom Kennedy, Bryant. After drafting Fulgham, they signed his college teammate Duhart. Becker is a blocking tight end. Parham is a receiving tight end with crazy 6’8 height, but only 243 pounds, and from a small school. This made a total of four rookie tight ends but Becker and Parham were waived after rookie minicamp. Kennedy was added after his tryout at minicamp. Kennedy has a former lacrosse background, so the Lions are really emulating the Patriots down to every possible detail.

That’s it for this month. I will be back next month with a new report including updates from the happenings at OTAs and minicamp.



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