In the backfield
Hockenson can be motioned or positioned into a fullback spot to run or fake the run. He can be a check-down receiver or run patterns out of the backfield. Again, this is most helpful for threatening the run but this would most likely match Hockenson up with a linebacker in a flat or basic underneath route in a passing situation.
It also wouldn’t preclude him from touching the ball on a hand-off instead of getting the ball on a pass. He can be used to block, run the ball, or threaten the flats or the middle of the field from behind the line.
From the slot
Lastly, flexing Hockenson away from the line and using him in a slot position would allow for additional opportunities to get him the ball. When lined up in a slot, he can be counted as a third or fourth wide receiver but allowing both Jones and Golladay to line up outside, taking coverage with them. This is another way to create underneath matchups with linebackers or safeties.
While T.J. Hockenson’s numbers have been decent, we believe that he needs to see the ball in that same kind of volume as George Kittle, about ten touches per game. That’s about twice as much as he has been getting the ball so far in 2020. The Detroit Lions can scheme him some touches by moving Hockenson around, similarly to how the San Francisco 49ers use Kittle.
Hockenson, as a former first-round pick, deserves the volume of touches that his draft status dictates and his ability has shown. He is the second-best receiving option behind Kenny Golladay who already has a great rapport with Matthew Stafford. Hockenson, Golladay, and rookie running back D’Andre Swift comprise the three best weapons that the Detroit Lions have going forward.
Swift started to get his touches last week, while Golladay is already getting a great share of targets. The way for the offense to take steps forward is to find another option, which Hockenson is sitting there waiting to be utilized better. Getting him the ball more will open up things for everyone else, too.