Some Lions’ fans will surely take issue, but T.J. Hockenson has landed in the top-10 of ESPN’s tight end ranking.
T.J. Hockenson has been productive, but not flawless (a decline in PFF blocking grade, lack of yards after the catch), through three NFL seasons. He has steps to take before becoming a top-tier tight end, but he is in line to get paid like one pretty soon.
Hockenson’s strengths are clear. He lapped the tight end field in contested catch rate last year, and per Next Gen Stats he caught over 44 percent (44.4 percent, sixth-best) of his “tight window” targets. There aren’t many more reliable pass-catching tight ends in the league.
ESPN is rolling out their rankings of the top-10 players at each position heading into the 2022 season. Jeremy Fowler has taken a sampling of 50 coaches, executives, scouts and players to make the rankings.
Hockenson landed at No. 7 in the tight end rankings (subscription required), which came out Thursday morning.
T.J. Hockenson is a legit top-10 tight end in the NFL
Hockenson landed in the top-10 (No. 8) of the 2022 tight end ranking from CBS Sports’ Jordan Dajani, while Dalton Miller of Pro Football Network had him 13th (12th if you remove the since-retired Rob Gronkowski).
So ESPN’s ranking of the Lions’ tight end lands higher than both. Here’s what Fowler wrote, followed by some sentiment from an NFC executive.
"Hockenson is a tight end in the classic sense, about as well-rounded as they come,” Fowler writers. “His 2021 production was solid (61 catches for 583 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games) while playing in the league’s 25th-ranked scoring offense.”He has some explosion in the passing game, and he’s a competitive blocker,” an NFC exec told ESPN. “As far as all-around tight ends go, he’s really good. Not flashy.”"
Hockenson is a big part of the future in Detroit, and the long-term contract he’s about to get will prove it definitively. It’s still hard to see it as a significant argument, but he is a top-10 tight end in the NFL right now with the potential to climb rankings like these down the road.
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