Road to the Draft

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Meet the Prospect: T.J. Hockenson

Name: T.J. Hockenson

Position: Tight end

School: Iowa

Ht/Wt: 6-5, 251

40-yard dash: 4.7 seconds

Bench: 17 reps

Vertical: 37.5 inches

Broad: 123.0 inches

3-cone: 7.02 seconds

20-yard shuttle: 4.18 seconds

View photos of NFL prospect T.J. Hockenson.

How he fits: Hockenson won the John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end and was also named the Big Ten Tight End of the Year after leading Iowa with 49 catches for 760 yards (15.5 average) and six touchdowns. Keep in mind he was on the same team as tight end Noah Fant, who is also considered a first-round pick.

The Lions signed veteran Jesse James in free agency, and have former fourth-round pick Michael Roberts on the roster, but there’s still a need to fill out the position with at least one more player. This is the most talented tight end class in a long time, and Hockenson is considered the cream of the crop among the group due to his overall game.

Key observations: There are few prospects at the tight end position that possess the overall skill set of Hockenson. Not only can he make plays in the passing game with his speed, route running, hands and body control, but he’s arguably the best in-line blocker of the entire class. That’s what makes him a rare prospect. Most times we see young prospects better at one or the other – pass catching or blocking – and the development on the weaker aspect comes in the NFL. Hockenson is one of those rare prospects who grades as a plus player in both facets. He’s exactly the kind of tight end who could really succeed in an offense that values balance like Darrell Bevell’s.

What they had to say about him: “Hockenson is a fun player to watch. In the passing game, he fights through press coverage and will stair-step defenders (fights through pass coverage and understands how to attack the leverage of defenders) down the field, helping to create some separation on crossers and deep-over routes. He tracks the ball naturally, and his high-point skills are on display in the red zone. He is very physical after the catch and possesses adequate speed.

“Hockenson is at his best in the run game. He rag-dolls defensive ends and linebackers. He had multiple pancake blocks in every game I studied. Overall, Hockenson is one of the best blocking tight ends I've ever evaluated, and he is dependable in the passing game. He's a Day 1 impact player at the next level.” – Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com

View photos of the tight ends working out at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

How he stacks up: As evidenced by his comments above, Jeremiah is pretty high on Hockenson as a prospect. In his latest list of the 50 top players in this draft class, Hockenson comes in at No. 5 on Jeremiah’s list.

Scout’s Inc. lists Hockenson as the No. 12 overall prospect with a grade of 91 out of 100. In their grading scale, a player with a grade of 90 or above is considered a “rare prospect” ranked top five at his position and a first-round prospect.

Almost every draft analyst who creates lists of the top prospects at each position lists Hockenson as the top tight end in this class.

What he had to say: “I mean, honestly, I love to block. I love to run routes. I just really pride myself on doing both. That I can do everything that the job requires as a tight end. That's what I try to do,” Hockenson said at the Combine.

“I think being a versatile tight end is something special, especially now. Being able to flex out, being able to be in a three-point, being able to do all of it is something I pride myself on being able to do, and something I want to continue to do, and continue to try to get better at. I feel like my best football is yet to come.”

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