ALLEN PARK – With the eighth full selection in the draft of the NFL, Detroit Lions chose T.J. Hawk –
The words were not even beyond the mouth of Roger Guudel before the fans of Detroit Lions began to kill him.
Nooooooooooo! What? No !!
This was not from a bar, you think. This was not fun in your friend's crib. This was on see a party that hosted the Lions in its own practice facility on Thursday night. And while there was certainly applause too, perhaps even more than a groan, there was certainly a groan. And they came from Detroit's house.
Of course, the mixed reaction of the selected Hockenson is no surprise. Not when you already ran out of the first round of Brandon Pettigrew in 2009, and another Eric Ebroon in 2014 with very little to show for any of them. Petigru had several big years of production, which were broken due to inconsistency and drops, and in the end his career ended prematurely due to knee problems. Ebron was the most successful favorite for the last two years in Detroit, but is best known for broken promises and unfulfilled potential.
Every year, from coaches we will hear how much better Ebron is. He will terminate the training field in the training camp. Excitement will build. And then the season starts, and he just struggled to put it all together. He was not sure, did not make enough big dramas, did not score enough, dropped too many passes, could not block the paper bag outlet and ultimately was not a culture.
Last year, the Lions cut him off.
This year, they went out and passed another top-10 choice to replace it? When did nobody else choose a solid end as early as 2006? Really?
Really. And it has a lot of sense.
We could also start right here: Ebron may not have been working, but that's not a reason not to take the best narrow end in this class. Because T.J. Hockenson is not Eric Ebron. Repeat after me: T.J. Hockenson is not Eric Ebron.
Ebron fell too much in North Carolina. Hockenson fell last year to one of his 64 goals. One. And it's not like doing it in space. Watch his movie, and you see a guy who was counted more than anyone else to save that offense in difficult situations, on third falls and in the red zone. They are hard play in tight spaces – but Hokenson has taken 49 passes. There was a team of 760 meters and scored six touchdowns. And he fell only one of those passes – and two for his career.
"Indeed, a natural son-in-law," said general manager Bob Quinn. "It's really smooth with the way he coordinates his body to put his body in a good position to make those heavy captures. Obviously, excellent hands. (It is) very natural way he only kind of up and gets – he does not fight at all. It really is easy for him. I think he just got a really good technique at the top of his way, whether it's with his legs to get some separation, but he can also subtly really uses his body for sight to get those extra few inches that he p should. "
This guy is safe. Ebron was not that.
And none of this is about blocking, which was never an Ebro's cup. Hokenson, meanwhile, could be the best narrow end in his class. And that's huge for a team that is trying to build control of the ball around Kerry Johnson.
"There are many plays on the strip where you see this guy, and he blocks someone, and suddenly you can no longer see the footage, because he got his boyfriend away and threw him on the bench," Coach Matt Patricia told fans of that draft party in Alen Park. "Only a healthy man, a hard man, and a blue-collar hard worker. And that's really what it's all about."
The cultural attacks were really emphasized this season, and for good reason. Patricia tried to enter the Patriot Road last year, but was greeted by firing in the dressing room. It caused many problems, especially early, and there is no doubt that it contributed to the slow start. So, the Lions have a priority for the guys who know they will fit in and continue to clean the old guard. Just look at how many former patriots they have signed, guys like Trees and Justin Coleman and Denny Aendola.
"It's a tough league, and for you to be successful, you have to be tough," said Flowers. "It can not be comfortable".
That's something Detroit is looking for. That's something that Ebrown never approached. That, more than anything but money, is why he was cut. But Hockenson, according to all accounts, has it. Lions should not only take their word for it. They talked intensively with his coach, Kirk Ferenc, who also happened to be enrolled in the world of Bill Belichik. He built a system on the Patriotic Way, and Hokenson, a former pawn who turned into everything that is American, who had just won the Mackey Prize as the best narrow end of the state, embodies all that.
See the link? See why this makes sense?
"I think he is the safest player in the draft," said NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremy. "Some of the benefits to him in terms of what I gave him and where I ran him, I did one day after I watched Rob Gronkowski personally live in the playoffs against the chargers, and I saw Gronk fully dominate a football game without really he had to catch the ball. He was so dominant in running.
"Then I turn this kid over and he is not as high as Gronk, and I do not compare anyone with Gronk – he is on a completely different level in terms of what he can do – but I saw this child with the same temper and cramps in the running game and controlling the running game, then on top of it, he does nothing but open and catch everything that throws him. He will be a very valuable player with a very high floor. "
Was Hokenson the right choice for Ed Oliver? Over Brian Burns? Above Rachan Gehry? During any of the 15 front seven players that were taken in the first round, a modern draft record? Who knows. The lions could use the help from the other side of the ball, and it is easy to understand the public thirst for it.
But there is no doubt that this misdemeanor also needs help after losing Ebron and Golden Tate last year. The lack of skilled players was unmistakable, and Mate Stafford suffered for it. Perhaps there was no worse close final rotation in the league.
Jesse James helps. Now, T. T. Hokenson. If the Lions are right for him, they have a chance to turn their biggest weakness into force in a terrible rush. And their failures in the past with Ebron should not influence this evaluation. With that thinking, the Lions had to go to Calvin Johnson in 2007, after they took three top-10 receivers in four years. And how did it come out?
"He will not be afraid (for comparisons with Ebroon)," said Quinn. "I know that".