Lions Rookie Stock Watch

Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Logan Lamorandier

The Lions' 2019 draft class has been under the microscope in recent weeks. 

Due to injuries and the performance of some of the rookies being better than some veteran players, playing time has increased for a few of the first-year players. 

Some have shown flashes, while some have experienced typical growing pains. 

However, for the most part, inconsistency has been the biggest theme to the season for the Lions' rookie class.

TE T.J. Hockenson

After general manager Bob Quinn selected tight end T.J. Hockenson in the top 10 of the NFL Draft, expectations were through the roof. 

Hockenson lived up to the early hype, with an amazing Week 1 performance against the Arizona Cardinals. Since then, the rookie has looked like a first-year pro.

One of the biggest concerns when drafting a tight end high is the time it takes the player to develop. Hockenson has been no different. 

That being said, Hockenson is, however, on pace to have one of the better rookie seasons for a tight end.

Yes, a top-10 selection carries the presumption of immediate impact, but there is a historically steep learning curve that can't be ignored. 

So far, the rookie is outplaying one of the Lions' top free-agent acquisitions in Jesse James and in both the receiving and blocking departments.

LB Jahlani Tavai

The most controversial selection of the Lions' 2019 draft was linebacker Jahlani Tavai. 

Tavai has started to dig into starting linebacker Jarrad Davis' snap count. 

Davis has struggled all year, and Tavai has been the beneficiary.

The Lions have done a good job of not leaving Tavai in open space and of utilizing him in areas that are strong suits of his game. 

Of the rookie linebackers that have played at least 100 snaps, Tavai is Pro Football Focus' second-highest graded off-ball linebacker -- above bigger names such as the Steelers' Devin Bush and the Buccaneers' Devin White.

To be fair, Tavai might not have nearly as many responsibilities as other linebackers. 

Yet, in his current role, he is living up to expectations as a second-round pick.

S Will Harris

On to Detroit's third-round pick, safety Will Harris. 

Former Lions starting safety and defensive captain Quandre Diggs suffered a hamstring injury before he was traded away to the Seahawks, and Tracy Walker has been out with a knee issue. 

By default, Harris has seen quite the uptick in playing time. 

In back-to-back weeks, Harris has played in 100 percent of the defensive snaps.

Harris hasn't done much to stand out so far, though. 

He has one pass deflection on the year, to go along with no interceptions and no forced fumbles. 

For a third-round pick, average is the best adjective to use to describe how Harris has performed through nine NFL games. 

He isn't necessarily getting picked on by opposing offenses. However, he also hasn't been a plus-defender in coverage -- very similar to what he showed while at Boston College.

At least with Walker, a third-round selection in 2018, there were glimpses of high-level play during his rookie campaign.

There is still plenty of time for Harris to develop into something, but early results haven't inspired a ton of confidence.

More: NFL to Look into Lions' Reporting of Matthew Stafford's Injury

Comments (2)
No. 1-2

Quinn is all about high floor, conservative picks. Ragnow and Hockenson are good examples. How high their ceilings will be is the question. Ragnow is getting better and better in his second season. Give Hockenson time and he’ll be good and maybe even very good. The ironic piece is his blocking, which was supposed to be a strength, has been inconsistent at best.


Still against the Hockenson pick. Noah Fant went late in the first and Irv Smith went in the second and all these guys are within a catch of each other. I know TJ Hockenson's skillset is a little different than the other two, but at 8 that's a spot a team needs to draft a franchise changer like an o lineman or d lineman not a luxury position like a tight end.