T.J. Hockenson

Poll: Which Top 10 Pick Has The Highest Bust Potential?

The NFL Draft is just barely in the rear view mirror, which means that teams are full of hope for their young rookies. But, of course, the NFL Draft is largely a crapshoot, and not every player will realize their full potential. 

This year’s draft had talent, but lacked a true consensus on the top player. Many evaluators pegged defensive end Nick Bosa as the player with the highest ceiling in the 2019 class, but other saw Alabama’s Quinnen Williams as the “safest bet.” The 49ers pounced on Bosa with the No. 2 pick while the Jets (and former GM Mike Maccagnan) were delighted to land Williams at No. 3 overall.

Leading up to the draft, much of the attention was on Oklahoma quarterback (and one-time MLB hopeful) Kyler Murray. When Murray announced that he would ditch the Oakland A’s, his stock exploded – Murray was considered a borderline first-round prospect in the winter, but wound up as the Cardinals’ choice at No. 1 overall. Murray has the speed that teams crave at the QB position, but questions persist about his size and overall lack of experience as a full-time starter.

The Cardinals’ long flirtation with Murray brought us the expected result, but the Raiders gave us the real first shock of the draft when they tapped Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 overall. Not to be outdone, the Giants snagged Duke’s Daniel Jones at No. 6 overall. Heading into the draft, neither player was thought to be anywhere near Top 10 consideration, but Mike Mayock and Dave Gettleman were unwilling to trade down and risk losing out on their guys.

The domino effect created by those picks allowed the Bucs to grab inside linebacker Devin White (No. 5 overall), the Jaguars to land outside linebacker Josh Allen (No. 6), the Lions to snag top tight end T.J. Hockenson, the Bills to draft defensive tackle Ed Oliver (No. 9 overall), and the Steelers to finish out the Top 10 with linebacker Devin Bush. Most of those picks were warmly received, but nothing is certain in the draft.

Which Top 10 pick do you think has the highest bust potential? Click below to cast your vote (link for app users) and back up your choice in the comment section.

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Extra Points: Packers, Jets, Chargers, Lions

The Packers have a huge season ahead of them. After an outstanding run of success, things got stale in Green Bay under Mike McCarthy, which resulted in his firing. The team desperately needs a boost of energy, and they’re hoping they found it in new coach Matt LaFleur. The 39-year-old is apparently wasting no time taking charge in his first offseason at the helm, as Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette writes that the young coach is “taking on an enormous load” during OTAs. Dougherty says that LaFleur is hovering around the quarterbacks and coaching them up at every opportunity, which he describes as a notable departure from McCarthy, who left that up to his quarterbacks coach.

LaFleur is apparently sitting in on all the quarterbacks meetings, and Aaron Rodgers importantly is happy with the way he’s being coached up. Dougherty writes that Rodgers “appears to be embracing” LaFleur’s hands-on approach. That’s surely music to the ears of Packers fans, but Dougherty does caution that there’s some level of concern about everything he’s putting on his own plate and how much his devotion to the quarterbacks “will take away from LaFleur’s panoramic view of the team once camp and the season start.” That being said, a reinvigorated Rodgers is by far the most important thing to the team right now, so it certainly doesn’t sound like a bad thing.

Here’s more from around the league on a quiet holiday weekend:

  • The Jets have had a drama-filled offseason, to say the least. Immediately after Mike Maccagnan was fired, reports began trickling out that Adam Gase didn’t want either of the Jets’ pricey free agent acquisitions, running back Le’Veon Bell and linebacker C.J. Mosley. While the reports that Gase didn’t want the team to sign Bell have more or less been confirmed, it’s apparently not true that he didn’t want Mosley, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. Cimini writes that Gase “was a strong proponent of signing Mosley,” and notes that Gase and Mosley even share the same agent, Jimmy Sexton. It sounds like the Jets have one less headache to worry about.
  • Chargers pass-rusher Joey Bosa has been a star ever since he entered the league. As a rookie he had 10.5 sacks despite missing the first four games of the season due to a contract holdout, and he’s been dominant off the edge ever since. But the Ohio State product was hobbled by a foot injury that cost him the nine games of last season, and he wasn’t quite the same after he returned. Speaking to the media recently after practice, Bosa conceded that the injury is still bothering him. “It’s just there. It’s just something I notice. It’s been getting better all offseason, so I could definitely see by camp or maybe even next year where it kind of starts fading away,” Bosa said, per Adam Maya of NFL.com. Foot injuries can be tricky, so it’s somewhat alarming that Bosa is still feeling soreness in his foot after this long, but Maya notes he did say it’s feeling “well enough for him to avoid a Lisfranc-type surgery.” This will be a situation to monitor this offseason.
  • Rookie tight ends often don’t play much right away. Tight end is widely regarded as the position that’s hardest to transition to from college to the pros, other than quarterback, and many take time to develop even if they’re drafted highly. It sounds like Lions rookie T.J. Hockenson could be an exception to that rule. Hockenson has looked good during OTAs, according to Tim Twentyman of the team’s official site, who notes that Detroit isn’t going to treat him with kid gloves, writing Hockenson will “see the field early and often.” The Lions got virtually nothing from their tight ends last season so they made it a priority to upgrade this offseason, signing Jesse James and drafting Hockenson eighth overall. It sounds like Hockenson is in line to start in his first season.

Lions Sign T.J. Hockenson, 2 Other Picks

The Lions’ second top-10 tight end pick in six drafts, T.J. Hockenson is now in the fold. The acclaimed Iowa prospect signed his rookie contract on Thursday, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press tweets.

In addition to Hockenson’s four-year deal, with the customary fifth-year option, the Lions agreed to terms with second-rounder Jahlani Tavai and fifth-round selection Amani Oruwariye, Birkett adds (via Twitter). Hockenson will receive a $12.435MM signing bonus upon inking his four-year, $19.821MM deal.

Detroit drafted Hockenson at No. 8 overall, two spots higher than the team took Eric Ebron five years ago. Hockenson may not have Ebron’s receiving upside but brings a more well-rounded game and hails from what’s become a tight end factory. The Hawkeyes have produced George Kittle, Broncos first-rounder Noah Fant, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Tony Moeaki, Scott Chandler and Dallas Clark over the past 15-plus years. Hockenson is expected to immediately become a key target for Matthew Stafford.

The Lions passed on Ebron’s 2018 option last year, and while the former North Carolina standout thrived as a Colt, his former team struggled to replace him. Levine Toilolo‘s 263 yards led Detroit tight ends. Hockenson, whom the Jaguars likely would have selected had the Giants not taken Daniel Jones at No. 6, broke out for 760 (on 49 receptions) as a sophomore last season at Iowa, where he also became a well-regarded blocker.

A linebacker out of Hawaii, Tavai played both on the Warriors’ defensive line and at middle linebacker. He registered 16.5 sacks in four college seasons. Oruwariye arrives as a cornerback from Penn State.

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East Rumors: Bills, Jernigan, Fins, Giants

Prior to the Giants’ selection of Daniel Jones, the Bills were engaged in talks to move down from their No. 9 spot. In a must-watch piece for Bills fans and draft buffs, Brandon Beane allowed partial access to his team’s draft room (video link). Buffalo scrapped talks to trade down once New York selected Jones, with Beane zeroing in on Ed Oliver shortly after. It appeared the Bills, despite taking Dawson Knox in Round 3, did not have interest in T.J. Hockenson, the Lions’ selection at No. 8. Applause occurred after Detroit left Oliver on the board.

The Bills also offered an undisclosed team picking in the 20s, which initiated the talks, picks 40, 131 and 147. (Beane said multiple teams contacted him to inquire if the Bills wanted to move back into Round 1.) But said team did not believe that was enough to move out of the round. This move was likely for Cody Ford. The Bills attempted to trade up higher than they did in order to land Ford in the second round, with members of their draft room showing relief the Panthers — whom Bills execs assumed were taking the Oklahoma lineman — before striking a deal with the Raiders for No. 38. The Bills also rebuffed a Bears offer to move out of No. 74, which ended up sending running back Devin Singletary to Buffalo.

Moving to an NFCer’s defensive line situation, here is the latest from the East divisions:

  • The Eagles released Timmy Jernigan but brought him back at what turned out to be a substantial discount. After signing a four-year, $48MM extension late in 2017, Jernigan had to settle for a one-year, $1.25MM deal, Reuben Frank of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. This comes with $1MM guaranteed, including a $250K signing bonus. Another $750K is available in incentives, per Frank. Jernigan now enters what will be a significant season for his career trajectory. A full-time starter for the Super Bowl champion Eagles edition, Jernigan will only be 27 by the time free agency opens in 2020.
  • Currently at the Vikings‘ rookie camp, Sean McGuire appears to have another suitor in the event Minnesota does not sign him. The Dolphins are interested in adding the Western Illinois quarterback prospect, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald (on Twitter). The Dolphins want to add a quarterback before their rookie camp begins May 10, Jackson continues. Miami now has Josh Rosen, Ryan Fitzpatrick and former Lions backup Jake Rudock on its roster. The Dolphins cut Luke Falk earlier this week. McGuire would seemingly compete for a third-string job or practice squad slot in Miami.
  • The Dolphins are likely to turn to the veteran offensive line market as well, Jackson writes, adding only four players — Laremy Tunsil, Daniel Kilgore, fellow starter Jesse Davis and third-round pick Michael Deiter — are true locks to make the roster. Although Jackson adds sixth-round pick Isaiah Prince and UFA signing Chris Reed will likely make the team as well, he notes the team appears ready to explore some additional help. Jared Veldheer, Donald Penn, Jermey Parnell, Mike Remmers, Andy Levitre and Stefen Wisniewski are some of the notable vets available.
  • Giants sixth-round pick Corey Ballentine did not show for their rookie minicamp this weekend. The team wants the recent gunshot victim to stay in Kansas and be with family, according to SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano (on Twitter). The Washburn-developed cornerback is expected to make a full recovery and attempt to make Big Blue’s 53-man roster — one without many surefire answers at corner.
  • Former Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey is officially listed on the Giants’ roster as a quarterback/tight end, Jordan Raanan of ESPN.com tweets. Dungey was a dual-threat player for the Orange, finishing his career with 1,993 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns.

Dave Gettleman On Josh Allen, Daniel Jones, Eli Manning

Roger Goodell uttering the name “Daniel Jones” served as perhaps the most shocking moment of the draft, and the decision that led to the commissioner reading that card did not come easy for the Giants.

Dave Gettleman had another name in mind, in the event the Giants felt their short-term need at defensive end was too great to ignore at No. 6. The second-year Giants GM said (via NBC Sports’ Peter King) the decision to bypass Josh Allen for Jones was “agonizing.”

I agonized over that,” Gettleman said. “I agonized. Before the draft, we discussed that thoroughly as a group — first last Friday, then again Wednesday. Obviously we had great regard for Josh Allen. But the one thing I have learned is you don’t fool around with a quarterback. If he’s your guy, you take him.”

Gettleman said post-draft he knew of two teams that would have taken Jones before the Giants’ No. 17 pick. The Jaguars snapped up Allen at No. 7, doing so despite not expecting the Kentucky edge rusher to be there. Jacksonville was expecting to make a decision between T.J. Hockenson and Jonah Williams, with Albert Breer of SI.com noting Hockenson was the Jags’ likely pick had the Giants gone with Allen as many expected. After the Jags’ Allen pivot, the Lions took Hockenson at No. 8.

The Giants have possessed three top-six picks since 2004, the first of those leading to Eli Manning and the second producing Saquon Barkley. Gettleman did not indicate last year he had any kind of debate between choosing Barkley or Sam Darnold. A year later, the Giants GM said his team might not have another near-future chance to grab a top quarterback prospect without sacrificing plenty in a trade, helping lead the Giants to Jones this year.

There are no guarantees. So the bottom line is, if you believe this kid can get you to the promised land, why wait?” Gettleman said, via Breer. “You have to have confidence in what you’re doing. You’re drafting players. The team will be better. Now, what happens next year? What if you don’t take him this year, and next year you’re picking 22? You’re going to have to move heaven and earth. This is the closest we’re going to get. It made the most sense.”

The Giants did not leave Manning in the dark about the Jones decision. He called the Giants’ 16th-year quarterback while on the clock at No. 6. Gettleman said Manning could potentially be Big Blue’s starter for multiple additional seasons.

I was on the phone with Eli. I told him, ‘You’re our quarterback, let’s go,'” Gettleman said, via Breer. “And by the way, we’re drafting the Jones kid, and your job is to be the best quarterback you can be and help us win. It’s his responsibility to crawl up your fanny and learn.”

New York attempted to trade up to land Denver’s pick at No. 10, but the Broncos went with the Steelers’ proposal instead, King reports. It’s possible the Giants wanted to trade up to land Rashan Gary or Brian Burns, whom the Packers and Panthers respectively selected. The Giants selected defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence at No. 17.

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