Lions TE T.J. Hockenson is entering his fourth season in the league, and has shown flashes of an elite skill set that could catapult him to the upper echelon of the position this season.
His sophomore season in 2020 saw Hockenson put up the second most receiving yards by a tight end in franchise history (723) and he earned a Pro Bowl selection. Expectations were high heading into 2021, but a series of injuries limited him to just 12 games.
Despite the limited action, Hockenson showed progress from 2020 to 2021. He averaged 3.4 more yards per game and his catch percentage rose from 66.3% to 72.6%, but the most significant progress was seen in his drops. Hockenson struggled in 2020, dropping seven passes, which was tied for the sixth most in the league.
The Lions may not be a Super Bowl-caliber team just yet, but having a tight end like Hockinson certainly opens up the offense. He finished 2021 ranked #5 in target share (21%), #5 in snap share 83.8%, #1 in route participation, #3 in air yards share (25.6%), #9 in receptions (61), and was one of two tight ends to finish in the Top 15 of PPR scoring at the position (145.3) without playing in 14+ games (the other being Rob Gronkowski).
Health & Draft Analysis – Hockenson brings a lot to the table at the tight end position: from his size, speed, and athleticism to his steady improvement. Off the field, he’s worked with fellow Iowa alumni George Kittle at the Tight End University camp in order to hone his skills at the position. Still just 25 years old, Hockinson is an emerging star at the position, and if the Lions can figure out how to play competitive football, he will be right there leading the charge. I think he is TE6, and worth a late fifth to early sixth round pick.
From a health perspective, things could be better, but they could be worse. He battled an AC sprain in 2021, and was shut down for the final four games of the season so he could have thumb surgery to fix a fracture. His Injury Risk is Elevated (16%), but his Health Performance Factor is Peak (97%).