Over the past two weeks, ESPN has been running its fascinating survey results, listing the top 10 players at each NFL position. What makes these lists more interesting than the normal top-10 lists this time of year is that these are not opinions of national pundits or beat writers. These lists are the result of a large survey of employees on NFL teams. Per the article, over 50 people—ranging from league executives to coaches to scouts to even NFL players—were asked to list their top-10 players at each position, and then ESPN compiled them and averaged the results to create a master list.
While earlier in the week, we made the case for at least three Detroit Lions players being in the top-10 at their position, these NFL insiders collectively listed just a single one: tight end T.J. Hockenson.
“He has some explosion in the passing game, and he’s a competitive blocker,” an anonymous NFC exec said. “As far as all-around tight ends go, he’s really good. Not flashy.”
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler also noted another impressive feat from Hockenson’s 2021 season.
“His 44.4% reception rate on tight-window throws was sixth at the position (NFL Next Gen Stats),” Fowler wrote.
As we noted earlier, center Frank Ragnow was snubbed from the interior offensive line list, but given an honorable mention. He ranked fourth on the list last year—first among all centers—but after missing 13 games in 2021, it appears he has fallen off of a lot of people’s radar.
The only other Lions player to get a mention in the rest of these articles was offensive tackle Penei Sewell. Though Sewell did not make the ESPN list of top-10 offensive tackles, he did get a nice shoutout in the honorable mentions section from an NFL personnel director.
“He had a higher ceiling for me than (Rashawn) Slater,” they said. “Slater you knew would be good. Sewell is a bit more boom or bust, but he could be a Hall of Famer.”
Lions left tackle Taylor Decker did not receive a vote, continuing his case for most underrated Lions player.
It’s worth noting that ESPN did not run a survey for the top 10 specialists in the league, so Jack Fox—who is inarguably a top 10 punter in this league—never had a chance to get recognition there.