The Minnesota Vikings shocked the world on Tuesday by trading for Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson before the trade deadline.
With the addition of Hockenson, it lessens the blow of placing Irv Smith Jr. on injured reserve, who will be out for 8-10 weeks with a high ankle sprain.
With the addition of Hockenson, the Vikings are getting an excellent player who should fit well. Here are 6 things to know about the Vikings’ new tight end.
Hockenson played at the University of Iowa
Tight end T.J. Hockenson, left, is Iowa’s team leader in receiving yards (287). Tight end Noah Fant, right, is Iowa’s leader in receptions (19) and touchdowns (five). The pair has combined for 37 catches for 483 yards and seven receiving touchdowns. Hockenson also has a rushing TD.
Hockenson was a star at Iowa. He and Noah Fant were one of the best tight end duos in the nation and the first duo to ever go in the first round of the same NFL draft. Hockenson went eighth overall to the Detroit Lions and Noah Fant went 20th overall to the Denver Broncos. During his two seasons for the Hawkeyes, Hockenson caught 73 passes for 1,080 yards and nine touchdowns
He has the prototypical size/frame you want from a tight end
Oct 23, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson (88) is tackled by Dallas Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (55) in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Hockenson is the prototype for an inline tight end. Standing at 6’5″ and 248 lbs, Hockenson’s frame is perfect for his skillset. He plays both the run and pass really well and do a little bit of everything.
His blocking has some room for improvement
Oct 10, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson (88) and Minnesota Vikings defensive end D.J. Wonnum (98) in action during the game between the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Coming out of Iowa, Hockenson was known as a tremendous blocker with mostly untapped receiving ability. For the Lions, that blocking hasn’t been consistent. This season, Hockenson has a PFF grade of 69.4 but only 48.3 as a run blocker and 58.9 as a pass blocker.
Hockenson is great getting yards after the catch
Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson scores a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks during the first half at Ford Field, Oct. 2, 2022.
Nfl Seattle Seahawks At Detroit Lions
The Vikings have the least yards per catch in the league from their tight end group at 7.3 yards. Hockenson has been great in this area. Per Next Gen Stats, Hockenson is second in the NFL in yards after the catch over expected this season with +117. sitting only behind San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey with +163.
He made the Pro Bowl in 2020
Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson makes a diving catch.
Syndication Detroit Free Press
Despite not having the best surroundings, Hockenson made the Pro Bowl after a stellar campaign in his second year in 2020. He played in all 16 games for the Lions and caught 67 passes for 723 yards and six touchdowns. Those were his career-best numbers in all three categories.
Hockenson is the perfect archetype for this offense
Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson runs against Miami Dolphins safety Jevon Holland during the first half at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022.
The Vikings’ offense with Kevin O’Connell is predicated on having skill players that can both block and be a quality receiver down the field. Head coach Kevin O’Connell likely sees Hockenson as an improved version of what he had in Los Angeles in Tyler Higbee: a player that can do a little bit of everything for your offense.