Now that T.J. Hockenson has been drafted by the Detroit Lions at the 2019 NFL Draft in Nashville, Tenn., here's a look at what fans need to know about the 6'5", 251-pound Iowa tight end.
At a time when most of the tight ends coming into the league are basically oversized wide receivers, Hockenson brings a dominating blocking presence to the NFL. He seems to take not just pride but genuine pleasure in run blocking — like a left guard in a tight end’s body. He has the strong core, vise-grip hands and sturdy base to handle linebackers and a lot of edge rushers, simply moving them to where he wants them to go. He’s also enough of an athlete to move out into space and seal the outside on run plays. Hockenson is also a valuable passing-game weapon in his own right. He’s a coordinated hands catcher who tracks the ball well when running deep up the seam, and he shows the ability to high-point the ball in contested-catch situations. As a catch-and-run threat, he’s a fluid and coordinated athlete who runs with excellent balance, with the ability to run through or — a few times — leap over the occasional tackler. He has enough long speed to threaten the deep middle, and he consistently gets a step on defenders when running crossers. He can flex out and be a threat, showing savvy as a route runner and an understanding of how to leverage defenders.
It’s relative, but Hockenson profiles as a good-but-not-great athlete as far as his contributions in the receiving game. He’s not going to blow safeties away going up the seam.
He’s not quite a young Rob Gronkowski/Travis Kelce type of athlete, but Hockenson is in that mold — an increasingly rare tight end who can be an asset as a blocker and a receiver. Add in the competitiveness and football character, and he’s a safe bet to be an immediate contributor.