On Tuesday afternoon, prior to the NFL trade deadline passing, the Detroit Lions traded tight end T.J. Hockenson (and 2023 and 2024 fourth-round picks) to the Minnesota Vikings for a 2023 second-round pick and a 2023 third-round pick. With Hockenson out of the picture, the Lions will roll with Brock Wright as their TE 1, but who will assume the TE 1 position in 2023? If GM Brad Holmes decides to go the free agent route, he may avoid tight ends altogether in the 2023 NFL Draft, but something tells me he will replace Hockenson on the cheap by selecting one at some point in the draft.
Which 5 tight ends should the Detroit Lions consider in the 2023 NFL Draft?
Detroit Lions GM Brad Holmes has made it pretty obvious that he wants to build the foundation of his team through the NFL Draft, and that is exactly the direction I think he will go to replace T.J. Hockenson.
Assuming the Lions look to the 2023 NFL Draft to get a tight end, here are five players they should consider.
Michael Mayer (Notre Dame)
Mayer is without a doubt the top draft-eligible player in the 2023 cycle (Think Rob Gronkowski) and if the Lions want him, they will have to use a top-15 pick. It is possible the Lions will have two top-15 or so picks in the draft, so they could use one on Mayer. That being said, I have a feeling Holmes will wait until AT LEAST the second round to get a tight end.
Darnell Washingon (Georgia)
Washington, at 6-7, 270, is currently my No. 2 tight end in the 2023 NFL Draft, and I can also see him being selected in Round 1, though, probably at the end of Round 1. He suffered an injury in 2021 but he is back in 2022 and has shown promise.
Tucker Kraft (South Dakota State)
Kraft is somewhat of a wild card to me, and he could end up being drafted higher than what the Lions will be willing to pick him. If he slips to the third round, I would love the pick but look for him to go off the board in Round 2.
Dalton Kincaid (Utah)
Kincaid is certainly a threat in the passing game but he still has to work on his blocking skills if he wants to move up draft boards. In eight games with Utah this season, he has 46 catches for 614 yards and seven touchdowns.
Sam Laporta (Iowa)
If the Lions want to go with another tight end out of Tight End U., they may select Sam Laporta. Now, Laporta is not at the same level as Hockenson in terms of athletic ability, but he is a hard worker and he is consistent. He seems like the type of player Holmes and Dan Campbell is looking for but I'm not so sure he will ever be a true TE 1 in the NFL.
Nation, which of these college tight ends would you prefer?