T.J. Hockenson Fantasy
The Tight End position is one of the most difficult to get production from for most fantasy managers. If one does not draft Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, or George Kittle that slot in the line up will be a desolate wasteland of injury and weekly volatility. That is primarily why I am ecstatic about the arrival of Hockenson to the NFL. Producing NFL Tight Ends C.J. Fiedorowicz, Dallas Clark, and the aforementioned Kittle, Iowa has a well-earned reputation as Tight End U. The early entrant into the 2019 NFL draft is not only a great athlete but one of the best blockers at his position in a long time.
Hockenson and Dallas Clark both won the John Mackey Award as the best tight end in college football. Iowa and Arkansas are the only two schools that have had two student-athletes win this prestigious award. Mark Andrews, Jake Butt, Hunter Henry, Nick O’Leary, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tyler Eifert and Dwayne Allen are some of the other current players who have taken home this trophy.
NFL Combine Recap
- 40-yard dash: 4.7
- Bench Press: 17
- Vertical Jump: 37.5
- Broad Jump: 123.0
- 3 Cone Drill: 7.02
- 20 Yd Shuttle: 4.18
- 60 Yd Shuttle: 11.55
T.J. Hockenson proved to be just as athletic as he showed on tape. As per Playerprofiler.com, T.J. ranks in the 71st percentile in the 40-yard dash, more than enough straight-line speed to go past unsuspecting linebackers. His 37 inch vertical allows him to sky over defenders who simply cannot get high enough to bother a high point hands catch. His 87th percentile agility score allows him to go around defenders in the open field. Hock had a great NFL combine in all phases.
Strengths & Weaknesses
Hockenson brings a lot to the table and takes almost nil off it. The first thing that jumps off the screen in watching his film is his blocking. He was successful in multiple blocking roles. Hock is out to collect his opponent’s manhood as he dominates his opponent. If he gets his hands on you going forward you are going down. WIth great inside hand technique and legs that don’t stop driving he has taken down many defensive linemen and linebackers alike. He also can use his lateral agility to move around the line to strike at opportune times to create holes for his teammates. The one concern I have that stood out on tape at times was the teams use of Hockenson’s aggressiveness against him. He could get caught lunging at times and made to look foolish on fakes. With a little coaching, he should be one of the top blocking Tight End’s in the NFL sooner than later.
In the receiving game, Hock was able to consistently run by linebackers up the seam to get quickly on top of safeties. His large frame allows him to box out smaller defenders while his NBA Power Forward like 37.5-inch vertical jump allows him to sky for the ball using hands only to snag the ball at its highest point. The Iowa TE consistently flashed above-average hands-on tape. He also showed impeccable body control with highlight-reel catches near the sideline. The one weakness I saw was his lack of refinement on his routes, using his superhero-like athleticism to dominate his opponent. He shows the ability to be coached as evidenced by his refined blocking techniques so he should be able to beef up this part of his game in short order.
Perhaps the most exciting part of his game is what he can do when he gets the ball in his hands. He will run over, around, or above defenders, which is exciting but also terrifying at the same time. Hockenson flashes his lateral agility combined with good power to make arm tackles mostly foolish attempts as it bothers him none. Hock also will regularly make “Plays of the week” when he pulls out the Ezekiel Elliott hurdle at 250 plus pounds. It’s also a play that can end his season with a bad landing. While his play style can lead to injuries the NFL is a gladiator sport and every player that steps onto the field is subject to injury. With the Tight End position injury is a common reality but as recently retired Rob Gronkowski would say (I have no evidence he really said this), “we not here for a long time, we here for a good time!”
Best Fit: NFL Scheme
If I were a Jacksonville Jaguars fan I would be jumping for joy if Hockenson landed with my team. With his blocking prowess, he makes a great sixth offensive lineman to augment a power running game. I believe that is exactly what the Jaguars plan to do in 2019. That team almost made the Super Bowl in 2017 with an offensive scheme that featured the brutal running of Leonard Fournette and incredible defense. In 2018 the running game fell apart for a myriad of reasons including the atrocious play of Blake Bortles. This forced the defense onto the field more and saw the defense fall apart as the 2018 season wore on. I fully expect the Jags in 2019 to recommit to the power running game. With a more respected QB, Super Bowl winner Nick Foles, under center the defense cannot load the box in anticipation of the run all game long. Hockenson’s skills in the blocking game will get him on the field early in his career where he will be a key contributor. His size will get him targeted by Foles as we have seen his love for throwing jump balls to large humans in the biggest of games. I see this as a marriage that will be beneficial for all parties involved and most importantly lead to wins on the field.
I currently have Hockenson as my TE1 not only due to his size, athleticism and ball skills but most importantly his blocking skills. That last ability is what will ultimately get him on the field the quickest. For Dynasty I would take him somewhere in the back half of the first round. As long as he lands in a situation where he can start immediately I could definitely see him becoming top 12 (that’s not saying much)within a couple of years. The thing to keep in mind is that his position has the slowest development curve out of all the skill positions so you must be patient. If you need immediate production it may be best to draft an RB with your first round pick. For those playing in two TE formats seriously consider Hock in the top six as a guy who could join the elite three.
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