T.J. Hockenson NFL Draft profile: Everything to know about pro day, measurements, strengths, team fits
Not only is T.J. Hockenson the best tight end in this class, he's a top-10 talent
T.J. Hockenson is a throwback in the sense that he's more than just a pass-catching machine patrolling the center of the field. He's also one of the best blocking tight ends in this draft, who also has the athleticism that has drawn comparisons to Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski. That versatility, coupled with his physical talents, make Hockenson not only the best tight end in this draft class but one of its best players; there's a chance he's a top-10 selection.
Hockenson, who redshirted in 2016, played just two seasons for Iowa. He had 24 receptions for 320 yards and three touchdowns in 2017 but made enough of an impression in limited opportunities to make the preseason watch list for the John Mackey Award, which goes to the nation's top tight end. Hockenson more than doubled his production in 2018; he finished with 49 receptions for 760 yards and six scores.
Among all FBS tight ends, Hockenson ranked fourth in Pro Football Focus' yards-per-route-run metric and was in the top 10 in deep pass receptions, deep pass yards and receptions from the slot.
Combine/pro day results
32 1/4 inches
9 1/2 inches
Strengths: Best overall tight end and one of the best overall players in this draft class. Hockenson shows great footwork when blocking and has shown the ability to finish blocks in the run game. He runs refined routes, due in equal parts to his athleticism, understanding of the game and solid footwork. He also excels at contested catches. Taken all together, he can be a game-changing middle-of-the-field talent.
Here's an example of Hockenson's blocking skills:
And here is Hockenson making a tough catch over the middle:
Weaknesses: Hockenson has very few weaknesses. He's not as fast as tight end and former Iowa teammate Noah Fant, but his 4.7 40 matches what Zach Ertz ran at the combine several years ago. There is very little Hockenson doesn't do well.
George Kittle. Easy, same-school comparison here. Like Kittle, Hockenson is a serious seam-stretcher who plays faster than his 4.7 time in the 40. He has dynamic feet, springy leaping ability, and strong hands, so he's the consummate big target over the middle. He's probably a little ahead of where Kittle was as a blocker when he entered the league, but for as many highlight reel blocks as Hockenson put on film in 2018, he could add bulk which would give him more power against defensive ends when he's in-line.
NFL teams in play to draft Hockenson
Jaguars: That's right, a tight end could go No. 7 overall. The Jaguars have bigger needs at quarterback but they just acquired Nick Foles and it appears the team will address other needs in the first round. Offensive line also makes some sense but if you're looking to get Foles a ready-made security blanket Hockenson checks all those boxes. Not only will he help the passing game, he'll also be blocking for Leonard Fournette, who is looking to get back on track after an inconsistent 2018 season.
Lions: Yes, Detroit just signed former Steeler Jesse James but he's a No. 2 tight end who is more blocker than receiver. Behind James? Michael Roberts, who had nine catches last season, and Jerome Cunningham, who spent most of 2018 on the practice squad. Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola comprise a solid receivers corps but Matthew Stafford would certainly welcome an upgrade at tight end.
Packers: Green Bay has two first first-round picks, the first at No. 12, and if Hockenson is still on the board, don't be surprised if he's drafted there. New coach Matt LaFleur will have a fully healthy Aaron Rodgers but Jimmy Graham is 32 years old an coming off a 55-reception season, his lowest career total over 16 games. Behind Graham on the depth chart? Evan Baylis, the former undrafted free agent signed to the Packers practice squad in December.
Raiders: Oakland presumably wouldn't take Hockenson at No. 4 (they have three first-rounders; No. 4, No. 24, No. 27) but if Hockenson somehow remains on the board at No. 24 the Raiders would pounce. Jared Cook, who led the team with 68 receptions a season ago, is gone, and Hockenson would complement an offense that has already added Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams this offseason.
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