Year: Redshirt sophomore
*Iowa official athletics site
- Chariton (Chariton, Iowa)
- Recorded 238 catches for 3,560 yards and 49 TDs
- First-team all-state selection as a sophomore, junior, and senior
- Team captain as a junior and senior
- 2018 John Mackey Award winner (nation’s top tight end)
- The first sophomore to ever win the award
“The biggest goals were to go day-by-day and week-by-week,” Hockenson said. “Attacking every day helped me get to this point. I tried to do the little things right, like all the coaches talk about every day. That put me in position to do some of the things I am doing now.”
-Hockenson on winning the Mackey award
- No injuries to note
Production & Experience
- 1,080 yards on 73 receptions, nine receiving touchdowns and one rushing touchdown in two seasons
Tenacious Blocker – Highlight reel-worthy blocks throughout the season. Takes pride in overwhelming defenders and doesn’t seem to be satisfied until they’re on their backside. Hand positioning is very consistent, keeping them inside and driving his feet while his face mask remains forward into their chest. Very polished as a blocker. Prideful.
T.J. Hockenson is a junkyard dog. Has the demeanor and approach of an offensive lineman when blocking in-line. pic.twitter.com/r6fCnsidCq— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) February 8, 2019
Hands – Not a natural hands catcher, can look a bit awkward at times, but is plenty reliable when targeted. Shown on multiple occasions to be capable of catching the ball outside of his body frame. Can be used in all areas of the field. Flourished from condensed formations in the plus 10-to-15 areas of the field.
Strength – Natural power and strength are littered throughout his game. Able to break tackles and gain yards after the catch. Also shown when blocking at the point of attack. Elite strength levels enable him to be a versatile tight end and threat as a blocker and a pass catcher.
Play-action involvement – Because of his versatility as a dual-threat option at the position, it is hard to get a beat on exactly which phase that he’s in. With his success as a blocker, it’s easy to incorporate him in the play-action game, using him as a disguised blocker who then releases into a route.
Fluidity – Not an overly fluid or loose mover in space, but he has enough to make you miss and maximize opportunities. Loves to hurdle defenders at the first hint of them attempting to go low, which shows his lower half athleticism. He has some stiffness up top, which shows within his routes, but he’s able to overcome that with Herculean strength at the point of attack as a blocker.
Over-aggression – Offensive lineman-like demeanor can sometimes result in completely whiffing on blocks. Loves to get his hands on defenders with violence in a hurry. Over-eagerness leads to misses that allow tackles in the backfield or failures to reset the edge. High pad level leads to being defeated and not being in control like he’s accustomed to being.
Pad level in routes – Usually runs standing tall in routes, which has a negative effect when trying to create separation. A natural short stepper that doesn’t have the natural route running ability to be able to create with sudden movements on his own. Much better against zone coverage, where he can be relied upon to attack throwing second/third level windows.
Route breaks – Gives away breakpoints due to rising pad levels and sharpness at the top of routes being inconsistent. When given free releases or faced with zone coverage, looks to be more comfortable operating with so much open space. Seems to be more comfortable with running routes breaking outside of the hashes and numbers.
After some uncertainty surrounding whether Hockenson would declare or the NFL Draft, he seems to have made the right decision. The first sophomore tight end to ever win the John Mackey Award, it doesn’t take long to notice why many are labeling him as the best and most well-rounded tight end of this class. His versatility as a blocker and consistency as a pass catcher are two prime examples of why he could be a featured option for the team that drafts him this spring.
Of any prospect in this draft class, few have seen their stock rise faster than the former Iowa tight end. With a countless number of bone-crushing blocks and evident reliability as a pass catcher, it would not be surprising at all if he quickly becomes one of the league’s best chess pieces. He should easily end up a top-20 pick as an NFL-ready, plug-and-play option.