Position: Tight End
2020 stats: 16 games played, 67 receptions, 723 yards, 6 touchdowns
Wait a minute, the Lions’ rising tight end, coming off of his first Pro Bowl selection is under pressure this season? It may not seem that way on the surface, but the expectations should be high for the third-year player in 2021.
With the Lions set to trot out one of the least impressive wide receiver units in the league come Week 1, Hockenson will essentially become the passing game’s number one weapon. Despite the Lions’ poor season, he took significant steps in 2020 with a handful of big plays, none bigger than his game-winning touchdown grab against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 7.
And yet, there is room for a lot more. Hockenson still has not exceeded 100 receiving yards in a game since his explosive NFL debut back in September of 2019. His blocking has yet to match the hype it received during his draft evaluations. He also goes to the ground too easily and too often when precious yards and first downs are still there for the taking.
According to Pro Football Reference, Hockenson recorded a catch percentage of just over 66% in 2020, significantly lower than some of the best players at his position. Those players – Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs, George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers, and Darren Waller of the Las Vegas Raiders – are the type of model against which Hockenson needs to measure his game moving forward.
There’s little doubt that Hockenson has the talent and work ethic to reach that level. However, with a new coaching staff, a new quarterback, and little help in the receiving corps, it could still be a tall order for him. If he doesn’t take another big step, a lucrative contract extension offer from the Lions may not be a certainty a few years from now.