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O'HARA'S DRAFT PREVIEW: 5 tight ends that could interest Lions

The Detroit Lions are likely to be spectators this year after being active participants in the run on high-quality tight ends in last year's draft.

There were 16 tight ends drafted last year, and the Lions led the way by taking T.J. Hockenson of Iowa eighth overall. They also took Isaac Nauta of Georgia in the seventh round, and 224th overall.

Eight tight ends were drafted in the first three rounds last year. Noah Fant, Hockenson's teammate at Iowa, also was taken in the first round by the Broncos. Two others were drafted in the second round and four in the third.

The 2020 class of tight ends lacks the depth and quality of last year. There is no first round-prospect.

The bottom line on the 2020 tight end class: Teams anticipated a weak class and got their quality tight end in 2019.

Following is a breakdown of where the Lions stand at tight end and how the 2020 class shapes up, with five tight ends at the top of the position who could fit the Lions, plus one sleeper who is well known to Lions fans.

View photos of Mike O'Hara's top 5 tight end draft prospects that could interest the Lions.

Lions tight end draft status: If a tight end is in the plans, it's most likely for depth on Day 3 – if at all.

Lions depth chart:

Returning: Hockenson, Jesse James, Isaac Nauta.

Added: Paul Butler.

Potential prospects:

1. Cole Kmet, Notre Dame.

6-6, 262. 4.70 Combine 40.

Stats: Career: 60 catches, 681 yards, 6 TDs. 2019: 43 catches, 515 yards, 6 TD.

Breakdown: Consensus pick to be the first tight end drafted based mostly on 2019 season. Opened year with a big game: 9 catches, 108 yards and a TD vs. Georgia. A good frame and decent speed to play tight end in the NFL.

How he could fit Lions: Backup development, like the rest of the 2020 tight end class.

2. Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic.

6-5, 243. 4.73 Combine 40.

Stats: 4 years, 148 career catches. 2019: 65 catches, 1,004 yards, 7 TDs. Team high in all three categories.

Breakdown: Closed out career with a big senior season to help lift FAU to a season-ending six-game win streak and a bowl game, where the Owls beat SMU 50-28.

How he could fit Lions: Situational depth. Obviously has passing game experience.

3. Adam Trautman, Dayton.

6-5, 255. 4.80 Combine 40.

Stats: 4 years, 178 catches, 2,295 yards after a redshirt 2015.

Breakdown: He faces the same question as every D III star – what will he do against top competition? Trautman dominated the Pioneer league his last two years – 41 catches, 9 TDs in 2018; 70 catches, 14 TDs in 2019.

How he could fit Lions: Development project for a small-college star who improved steadily.

4. Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri.

6-5, 258. 4.49 Combine 40.

Stats: In three seasons, 98 catches, 1,187 yards and 23 TDs. 2018 was his big season: 43 catches, 466 yards.

Breakdown: Production has matched his skill level only in spurts. He fell off in 2019 when QB Drew Lock graduated to the NFL. Route running seems to be an issue.

How he could fit Lions: Development project with speed. Type of player who could benefit from expanded practice squads.

5. Colby Parkinson, Stanford.

6-7, 252. 4.77 Combine 40.

Stats: 3 years, 87 career catches, 1,171 yards, 12 TDs.

Breakdown: Size and good hands made him a scoring threat – four TDs in 2017, 7 in 2018 and just one in 2019.

How he could fit Lions: Short-yardage underneath receiver.

Sleeper: Thaddeus Moss, LSU.

6-2, 250, No Combine 40 time.

Stats: 3 years at LSU, active only in 2019: 47 catches, 574 yards, 4 TDs.

Breakdown: His father, Randy, was a Hall of Fame wide receiver. Thaddeus was a big-game producer in LSU's 2019 championship season. He had two TD catches in the title win over Clemson.

How he could fit Lions: He has the family name and could be another from this position class who's a development project to see if he has the game.

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