T.J. Hockenson Scouting Report By Charlie Campbell
Developed blocking technique
Quick down the seam
Too fast for linebackers and some safeties
Too big for safeties to cover
Dangerous run-after-the-catch skills
Breaks tackles downfield; gets yards after contact
Tough to get on the ground
Tracks the ball well
Fast for a tight end
Adjusts well to the ball
Finds the soft spots in zone coverage
Fearless in the middle of the field
Adequate speed, but not overwhelming
Good, but not great, athlete
Summary: Teammate Noah Fant entered the 2018 season with more hype, but it was Hockenson who became the star tight end for the Hawkeyes. While splitting targets with Fant, Hockenson totaled 49 receptions for 760 yards with six touchdowns. Both then entered the 2019 NFL Draft and have early-round potential, but Hockenson's excellent 2018 season vaulted him to being the top tight end for the 2019 NFL Draft.
As a blocker, Hockenson is special. He is like an extra offensive lineman with his ability to tie up and handle defenders. He has size and strength, and should be able to win his blocks at the NFL level as well. Hockenson gives a relentless effort and displays excellent technique. His blocking should improve with pro coaching, but he enters the NFL as a plus blocker and significantly better than most receiving tight end prospects.
Hockenson has mismatch potential for the passing game. With his quickness and athleticism, Hockenson will be tough for linebackers to cover, and his size is problematic for safeties. Hockenson does a nice job of using his frame to shield defenders from the ball and win on contested catches. He also has reliable hands and is dangerous after the catch. He runs through tackles and picks up yards after contact downfield. In the open field, Hockenson will hurdle defensive backs, but he may want to be careful about doing that in the NFL or he will be putting his body in a vulnerable situation.
Hockenson is dangerous at working the middle seam and has quickness to get to the second level. With his good route-running and his feel, he can consistently get open. He tracks the ball well, adjusts to passes well, and is a real asset in the red zone. Hockenson's NFL team is going to have him as a main stay in the red zone through his blocking and receiving ability. With his athletic upside, Hockenson's best football is in front of him, as he should improve as he gains experience.
Sources from a multiple teams say that Hockenson is the consensus top tight end for the 2019 NFL Draft, and they believe he will be a first-round pick. Hockenson did not grade out as high as O.J. Howard did coming out of Alabama in 2017, or Eric Ebron did coming out of North Carolina in 2014. Thus, they believe that Hockenson should go in the 20s, but it definitely is possible that a team reaches and takes him earlier.
Player Comparison: Zach Ertz. Hockenson and Ertz (6-5, 250) are almost identical in size and have similar athleticism. Both possess speed and agility to go with their frames. They also have blocking ability to go along with being receiving threats. If Hockenson pans out, I think he could be a tight end similar to Ertz.
NFL Matches: Jacksonville, Detroit, Seattle, Houston, Oakland, Los Angeles Chargers, New England,
The Jaguars could use a long-term starting tight end because they let Austin Seferian-Jenkins go. Hockenson would provide a weapon for Nick Foles and help Jacksonville run the ball with Leonard Fournette.
Another team picking in the top 10 that could reach on Hockenson is Detroit. The Lions squandered the talented Eric Ebron and need to upgrade the tight end position. Hockenson would also help Detroit run the ball with Kerryon Johnson and protect Matthew Stafford.
Seattle could use a tight end and would be a great fit for Hockenson. He would be a mismatch weapon for Russell Wilson while also helping the Seahawks to reestablish their ground game.
The Texans could give some consideration to Hockenson, but Brian Gaine drafted two tight ends last year, and I'm not sure he's ready to admit that third-round pick Jordan Akins was a mistake.
Oakland could be looking for a long-term starter at tight end, and Hockenson is a Mike Mayock kind of player. Hockenson could be in play for the Raiders at either pick No. 24 or No. 27.
Staying in the AFC West, the Chargers could target Hockenson. He could form a talented young trio with Hunter Henry and Sean Culkin.
New England is facing life after Rob Gronkowski, so Hockenson could be viewed as the team's future starting tight end to replace him.