With the eighth pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions selected tight end T.J. Hockenson from the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The Iowa Hawkeyes have been a hotbed of tight end talent in recent years. Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson are the next up in that long line of talent. In stark contrast to his Hawkeyes teammate Noah Fant, Hockenson is the more traditional model of tight end. Hockenson provides a throwback to a more old-school view of the position, while still providing the skill set you need to survive in today’s evolved NFL offenses.
The tight end class in the 2019 NFL Draft is particularly deep this year. The cream of the crop at the position is T.J. Hockenson. Hockenson should remind a lot of people of his Hawkeyes predecessor George Kittle. He is a prototypical in-line tight end, with enough strength at the point of attack to be trusted as a blocker. He also possesses more than enough athleticism to be a real threat in the passing game.
While not quite as athletic as his tight end counterpart Noah Fant, Hockenson is still one of the better athletes at the position in this draft class. He’s a fast and fluid athlete who is going to give linebackers and safeties fits at the next level. His solid hands and efficient route running makes him the perfect option in the middle of the field and in red zone situations.
While Hockenson is already a capable blocker coming into the 2019 NFL Draft, he could stand to spend some more time in a weight room. Getting into an NFL strength and conditioning program should do wonders for the young tight end. He’s an eager and solid blocker but needs to add muscle mass. Getting stronger at the point of attack will turn Hockenson from “good” to “great.”
Much like Fant, Hockenson will also benefit from development with a position coach to refine his blocking technique. Often times Hockenson can get over-eager at the second level and get caught reaching for blocks. Learning how to slow down his approach and zero in on moving linebackers will do wonders for his all-around game.
How will Hockenson help the Lions?
Three or four years from now, we’re going to be talking about T.J. Hockenson as one of the best young tight ends in the league. Hockenson is going to give the Lions a consistent option in the passing game. He’s going to give defenses nightmares and will provide quarterback Matthew Stafford with a consistently solid option when things get tough. When paired with a more athletic swing tight end, Hockenson will provide Lions with a deadly duo at the position.