The final second-round matchup in Michigan Sports and Entertainment’s Draft Madness features an all-time athlete for Matt Patricia’s defensive line and a tenacious tight end with an all-around skill set. Which one makes the most sense to take? Well that’s where you come in. Read my case for each guy below, then head to our @MSELions Twitter account to make your pick! Check back with us daily for each matchup leading up to the week of the draft!
#2 Seed: Ed Oliver DL Houston
The numbers Oliver posted during Houston’s pro day were jaw-dropping. Listed as an interior defensive lineman, his athleticism would allow him to line up anywhere on the defensive line. The multiple fronts the Lions use would be an ideal fit for Oliver, minimizing his size concerns while maximizing his athleticism alongside Trey Flowers and Damon Harrison. His size, or lack thereof, allows him to maintain a lower pad level and leverage himself against larger blockers. Following an outstanding sophomore season, where he posted 73 tackles with 16.5 for loss and 5.5 sacks, many had Oliver as a potential first overall pick.
Oliver followed up his impressive sophomore campaign with a shaky junior year in Houston. He battled a knee injury and ultimately started just eight games. He also had a much publicized blow up with his head coach over the violation of a team rule. There are also questions over Oliver’s size and whether or not he will be able to hold up against the size of NFL offensive lineman. His drafting team will need to be creative with alignments and stunts to free him up to attack the opposing quarterback.
#3 Seed: TJ Hockenson TE Iowa
Perhaps the best all-around tight end in the draft, TJ Hockenson has all of the tools necessary to be a very successful NFL tight end. His large frame and plus athleticism should allow him to win early and often against NFL defenders. He has good hands and transitions well to get up the field as a runner. He’s a nasty blocker, and his ability to get downfield and open up running lanes would pair very nicely with Kerryon Johnson’s patient running style.
Like many college tight ends, Hockenson did not put up eye-popping numbers as a receiver for the Hawkeyes, so he is a bit of a project from that standpoint. Tight ends are also historically slow to adapt to the NFL and using another top-10 pick on the position would likely cause jeers from many Lions fans.
This is a tough one for me. Hockenson has been a bit of a draft crush for me for a few months now. His personality and play style would seem to fit perfectly into the culture being built in Detroit. Even with the addition of Jesse James, the Lions still have a big need at tight end. Hockenson’s all around ability would be a great fit in the offense many expect new coordinator Darrell Bevell to run. Yet, Ed Oliver is an insane athlete and elite talent. While he may be a bit undersized for the traditional defensive tackle position, he was incredibly productive when on the field for Houston. Adding him to an already talented defensive line could give the Lions the best group in the league.
Given Detroit’s need for playmakers and the contribution he could make as a blocker in the run game, I prefer Hockenson here for the Lions.
Now that you’ve heard our arguments let us hear yours. Vote in our poll!