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
When it was announced that Hock was headed to Detroit most fantasy gamers felt a collective cringe. Would it now take him five years to break out like the last Tight End the Lions drafted in the first round, Eric Ebron? Would he have to be outright released with the hope that TJ would land on a team that can take advantage of his prodigious talent? I think there is cause for optimism even with this less than idea landing spot.
The biggest difference between the last two TE’s drafted in the first round by the Lions is their abilities as blockers. Ebron’s scouting report, according to NFL.com, stated that the North Carolina TE needed plenty of work as an in-line and on the move blocker, notably lacking focus and intensity. Blocking intensity will never be an issue for Hock. As stated previously the blocking skill and effort will consistently get the Iowa TE onto the field early.
Another reason Hock will outpace his predecessor is the fact that he does not have to compete with Golden Tate running interior routes from the slot and gobbling up, on average, 131.75 targets a year. With Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay spacing the outside of the field I fully expect Hock to have plenty of room to roam in the middle of the field.
The biggest reason I see TJ Hockenson being successful in Detroit is the fan factor. He will quickly become a fan favorite with his overall intensity. If he is allowed to waste away like Ebron before him and the Lions start the season with a losing record the fans will quickly turn on the front office and coaching staff. The Detroit faithful may even turn on Matthew Stafford who “does not know how to throw to a tight end.” Considering the draft capital and recent history concerning this position it will be in the teams best interests to get Hock involved early.
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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