Many times as a team rebuilds, players to be excited about become few and far between. That’s certainly not the case with the Detroit Lions.
Although general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell are reluctant to use the term rebuild, it absolutely is a rebuild. The new regime is hoping to finally resurrect this Lions franchise that has limped through its NFL schedule for basically the last thirty years.
Following the NFL draft, fans of the Detroit Lions are raving about the organization’s seventh overall pick Penei Sewell, and rightfully so. Entering the draft, Sewell had been widely considered the top offensive lineman in 2021. Holmes was so excited to secure Sewell’s services that he comically violated NFL draft rules by submitting the selection too early. No harm, no foul; Sewell is a Lion, and the organization wasn’t penalized for the infraction.
Fans are surely excited to see how productive this offensive line can be in 2021 after producing the league’s 13th best unit in 2020, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). Adding Sewell to this unit should launch this group into the top five for years to come starting as early as next season.
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I’m also excited to see second-year running back D’Andre Swift paired with Jamaal Williams working behind this stout group. Maybe 26-year old Jared Goff will command this Anthony Lynn offense better than many of us expect.
I’m excited to see this overhauled defensive line go to work in 2021 with the additions of Michael Brockers, Levi Onwuzurike, and Alim McNeill paired with Romeo Okwara and Trey Flowers.
With all that being said, expect big things from the Detroit Lions starting tight end T.J. Hockenson.
Hockenson will be just 24-years old when the 2021 season begins. He’s coming off a stellar second year, making 67 receptions totaling 723 yards and six touchdowns. The former Iowa Hawkeye spent the offseason working out with George Kittle, the league’s best all-around tight end.
"“Coach Campbell is one of those guys; he’s a player’s coach. He wants you to talk to him. He wants you to reach out to him and tell him what’s going on,” Hockenson said. “He doesn’t care. He just doesn’t want any BS, and we all get that. We don’t want that either. So, I think we’re all on the same page in that aspect and we’re all really excited to get this ball rolling.“Obviously, we got [Penei] Sewell, and that’s just another piece to our puzzle that we can use, and I think if you ask anybody on this team, I think we’re all ready to get this thing rolling and ready to get started because the sky’s the limit,” he continued. “It really is for this team and this coaching staff. So, the city of Detroit, I hope they’re ready. Don’t get too [excited], but I’m just saying I’m excited and I think y’all will be too.”"
So, you’ve got Hockenson working out with his friend Kittle, Anthony Lynn’s knowledge and experience working with the likes of Antonio Gates, and Goff’s love for targeting his tight ends. I feel like Hockenson will explode in 2021 and eclipse the 1,000 yard mark for the first time in his career.
Hockenson earned a stellar 75.4 overall rating in his second season, according to PFF, including a 76.2 mark as a receiver and 70.9 as a run-blocker.
I’m also beyond excited to see Hockenson lined up next to Sewell on the end of the line of scrimmage working as a run blocker in 2021, creating a plethora of run lanes for the Lions running backs.