Offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn and the rest of the Detroit Lions coaching staff spent the last couple weeks evaluating their roster and this year's free agent class before diving into the draft class starting this week.
During that evaluation of the roster he's inheriting, Lynn spent time digging into the film of Pro Bowl tight end T.J. Hockenson, who caught 67 passes for 723 yards and six touchdowns this past season.
"T.J. did some nice things last year and I think his ceiling is even higher," Lynn said. "I know he made the Pro Bowl and all that, but he can play even better and that was the encouraging part. I like what I saw on tape. He's a good football player."
In Lynn's previous coaching stops with the Los Angeles Chargers and Buffalo Bills, he was a head coach and an offensive coordinator, and the tight end position was a big part of the offense.
Lynn said an elite tight end with receiving and route-running skills is a matchup nightmare in this league, which we've seen over the years with players like Travis Kelce, Darren Waller and George Kittle. Last season showed that Hockenson might not be far off from inclusion in that group of elite players.
"It creates a very unique matchup because you have linebackers and safeties covering that guy and if he's a stud, it's going to be a long day for you," Lynn said. "So if I force you to put a (defensive back) on that guy, then obviously you have a lighter box and you can run the football and you want to run the football into a lighter box.
"So, not only does it create matchups for you in the passing game but it also helps you in the run game."
Lynn said he could certainly see Hockenson developing into that role in Detroit's offense.
The Lions have a lot of uncertainty at the receiver position heading into the offseason, but Hockenson has solidified the tight end position, and could be in for a big 2021 in Lynn's new offense.
If it works out the way Lynn hopes, running back D’Andre Swift and the Lions' run game will also benefit from Hockenson's matchup potential.