2019 Re-Draft Sees Lions Steal Former Michigan Star From Packers

Rashan Gary

Getty Rashan Gary celebrates a big play for the Packers in the 2022 playoffs.

From drafting defensive end Aidan Hutchinson to signing tight end Devin Funchess, there’s been a bit of a local flair for the Detroit Lions over the last few months.

Former Michigan stars have found a comfortable landing spot with the team lately, and if things were handled a bit differently, that movement could have first been kick-started back during the 2019 NFL draft as well.

The latest Lions news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lions newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Lions!

Pro Football Focus and analyst Trevor Sikkema recently took a look at a re-draft from the 2019 class, a year the Lions selected safely within the top 10. Instead of sticking with T.J. Hockenson, though, Sikkema had the Lions nabbing Rashan Gary with the eighth-overall pick in a move that would seemingly have boosted Detroit’s defensive line.

As he wrote, “there were too many talented players in this class for him to stay as the pick here. The Lions needed pass rush then, and they still desperately need it now (hence the Aidan Hutchinson pick at No. 2 this past year).”

While that might seem like a slam on Hockenson, it speaks to more of the overall need for Detroit’s defensive line historically. Sikkema admits that Hockenson has still been solid for Detroit. Gary, however, he sees as a bit better given “an elite 89.1 PFF grade in 2021” which he believes could lead to “double-digit sacks on the horizon.”

There is no doubting Gary’s addition could have helped the Lions in multiple ways, but the team has no choice but to move forward. It might not stop some from pondering how good he could look right now in the Motor City, however.

Gary’s Career Stats & Highlights

So far, Gary is becoming a player that looks as if he is set to improve every single year he’s on the field in the league. Playing with Detroit’s major rival in Green Bay, Gary took a major step forward last season, posting a career-best 9.5 sacks and 47 tackles. Altogether thus far in his career, Gary has posted 103 total tackles and 16.5 sacks. Here’s a look at some of his top highlights from thus far in his career:

No doubt, a guy with the pass rush prowess of Gary would look good in Detroit, and help what has been an anemic pass rush. With Michigan, fans will remember Gary’s solid stat line. He put up 119 tackles and 9.5 sacks as a member of the Wolverines, which likely endeared him to local fans at the time he was in school.

Lions Still Did Well Landing Hockenson in 2019

Though Hockenson didn’t receive that much love in this re-draft sinking all the way to the Seattle Seahawks and pick 21, it’s still clear that taking him away from Detroit is splitting hairs. Hockenson has made a Pro Bowl for the Lions already, and seems to only be scratching the surface of how good he can look as a tight end in the league. Better than that, he seems to always be committed to improvement with the Lions, and routinely sets out to better his game in the offseason and become a more complete player in the league. He does need to stay healthy, but the arrow is seemingly pointed firmly in the up position for Hockenson’s trajectory.

As Sikkema points out, Hockenson has certainly “been fine to this point” as a pick for the Lions and could certainly look even better in the future. Just because the Lions go elsewhere in his re-draft doesn’t mean the team shouldn’t have picked Hockenson at all. He can certainly start to make bigger believers of everybody starting with the 2022 season in Detroit.

For now, though, he is replaced in the 2019 redraft of his class in at least one case.

READ NEXT: Lions’ Offensive Line Receives Major Praise Before 2022

Read More