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Camp Spotlight: Tight end T.J. Hockenson


Position: Tight end

Ht/Wt: 6-5, 247

College: Iowa

Experience: Rookie

View photos of tight end T.J. Hockenson from Day 11 of Detroit Lions Training Camp presented by Rocket Mortgage.

Outlook: The No. 8 overall pick in this year's draft, the addition of Hockenson was a big step in the Lions' revamping of their tight end room this offseason.

Hockenson was the best tight end available in this year's draft, and a player the Lions had their eyes on very early in the process.

Even sharing snaps with Iowa teammate Noah Fant, who was also a first-round pick, Hockenson won the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end and the Big Ten Tight End of the Year award. He started 13 games, and led the team with 49 catches for 760 yards (15.5 average) and six touchdowns.

Detroit got just 45 catches from their entire tight end room last season, and are hoping the additions of Hockenson, Jesse James and others bolster those numbers significantly.

Hockenson played a lot in-line on the line of scrimmage at Iowa, and comes to the NFL more polished as a run blocker than most tight ends entering the NFL because of the way the college game is played.

Hockenson's been a fixture on the first-team offense in Detroit since he arrived for the offseason training program, and that's been consistent through the first couple weeks of training camp as well.

I expect him to be a big part of this offense in Detroit.

Practice report: Hockenson had a good day Tuesday in the second of three scheduled joint practices with the Patriots.

The rookie showed off a bit on 1-on-1 passing drills as he got good separation from Patriots safety Devin McCourty on an in route for a completion on his first rep. To finish the drill, he ran a very good deep flag route pulling away from Patriots safety Duron Harmon for a catch and big gain. The one thing noticeable about Hockenson early on is when he runs routes, he's very good at setting up his defender. He consistently gets good separation at the top of his route.

Later, in a red zone period, Hockenson made a full extension grab in the back of the end zone. It was on the other side of the field, so I couldn't see if he got both feet down. Either way, the play showed off Hockenson's huge catch radius.

The highlight of the rookie's day came in a two-minute team period. The offense had worked their way down to the Patriots' 13-yard line with seven seconds left on the clock down four points. Hockenson ran a terrific route playing off James. Hockenson made a terrific cut back inside down the seam for a touchdown. His teammates rushed him in the end zone after his score allowed them to take the lead with just two seconds left on the clock.

Quotable: "There is a lot that goes on in a play like that," Hockenson said of the two-minute touchdown grab after Tuesday's practice. "Jesse went up the middle. I was able to cut off him. He got me open, basically. Stafford put the ball right off my break. There a lot of things that go on in a play like that, not just one guy. Obviously, the line protected it well and gave us enough time to do stuff like that. You've just got to finish it off with the catch."

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