Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer 55d

Could Irv Smith or T.J. Hockenson be answer for Lions at TE?

While Matt Patricia is a defensive-minded coach and the Detroit Lions' need at edge rusher might be the biggest overall hole on the roster, general manager Bob Quinn is also in need of offensive playmakers.

Quinn and Patricia have made it clear that tight end is a priority after the Lions woefully underperformed at the position in 2018. Trading Golden Tate left a hole for an underneath receiver and they could use an option to compete with Brandon Powell for the job. Backup quarterback, offensive line and even running back could also use some more talent.

In other words, there’s a lot the Lions need to get to. With the NFL combine coming up this week, here’s a peek at some players worth looking at for Detroit on offense:

Jarrett Stidham, QB, Auburn: The Lions are not expected to target a quarterback early, taking the top prospects off the table. But the middle rounds are an option to take a QB to back up and eventually push Matthew Stafford. Stidham is an intriguing candidate for both. He has decent size at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds. He would have good rapport with running back Kerryon Johnson from their time at Auburn, and he has a good feel on his passes. His 2017 was better than last season, but the Tigers were a much better overall team then as well. Stidham threw single-digit interceptions every year of his college career.

Tyree Jackson, QB, Buffalo: More of a third-day prospect, he would be a home-state selection growing up in Norton Shores, Michigan. The 6-7 Jackson is a young prospect -- he’ll be 21 when he’s drafted. If the Lions take him, they would likely want to bring a veteran in to provide competition perhaps beyond Connor Cook. His arm is incredibly strong, but if the Lions took Jackson, it would be a long-term play instead of immediately pushing Stafford.

Karan Higdon, RB, Michigan: The Lions have their starter in Johnson, but at 5-foot-9 Higdon could be a shorter power back who can also offer special teams value. There's no certainty the Lions will take a running back, particularly if they re-sign Zach Zenner and remain committed to Theo Riddick, but Higdon could be a good fit, although it’s unclear how good his hands are.

Bryce Love, RB, Stanford: There’s no questioning Love’s talent, but his ability to stay healthy is a concern. It could cause him to fall, and if it does, the Lions could make a Day 3 move here much like they did with Tyrell Crosby a year ago. Love would be a Day 3 steal and a dart throw that could pay major dividends. When healthy, he has top-5-in-the-draft running back talent.

Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina: He could give the Lions an option both as an inside/outside receiver and a returner. He would be more of a Day 3 option and there could be some injury concerns (specifically with his hamstrings), but when he’s healthy he could be a good complement to Detroit's backs.

T.J. Hockenson, TE, Iowa: He’s the one tight end who would make sense at No. 8 for Detroit. If the Lions are serious about bumping up the position, he’d make sense. Hockenson has a profile that can make him both a receiver and a good blocker. He would step in and be Detroit’s top tight end from the second he was drafted.

Irv Smith Jr., TE, Alabama: He’s more of a second-round pick for Detroit, but that might be the spot for the Lions to nab a tight end, which would leave him or Iowa’s Noah Fant as possibilities. Smith has NFL pedigree -- his dad was a first-round pick -- and had 44 catches for 710 yards and seven touchdowns last season.

Michael Dieter, OL, Wisconsin: The Lions have bigger needs than the offensive line, but could try to find an eventual T.J. Lang replacement in this draft. Dieter could be that either as a second- or third-day pick. He played guard, tackle and center for the Badgers (offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell’s alma mater) and that versatility could be intriguing for Detroit.

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