T.J. Hockenson finding his footing right away with Minnesota Vikings

I don’t think there were many NFL trade deadline deals more puzzling to fans than the exodus of tight end T.J. Hockenson from the Motor City. 

The former Iowa Hawkeye was drafted eight overall by the Lions in the 2019 draft, the first skill position player off the board. The highest tight end selected since Vernon Davis only lasted six picks into the 2006 draft, Hockenson figured to be a central focal point of the Lions’ offense moving forward.

While his stats through his first three seasons might look extremely underwhelming for an eighth overall pick, the Lions offense was pretty shambolic as a whole. He received plenty of work, and his blocking was pretty key for the Lions. He did make the Pro Bowl in 2021.

Despite a good start to the 2022 season, the Lions dealt Hockenson to the Minnesota Vikings in a pretty massive deal. Detroit received a 2023 NFL draft second-round pick and a 2024 third-round selection, while Minnesota  came away with a Pro Bowler (as well as two other picks).

T.J. was having his best season to date, so why trade him? Even further, why trade him to a divisional rival? The trade was pretty much maligned by the national media, pundits scratching their heads at the decision from Detroit. The Lions insist that this was a business decision, and not a reaction to their poor record, but that doesn’t necessarily make it a good business decision either.

Just a week in, Hockenson was a big part of the Vikings’ offense, catching all nine of his targets for 70 yards. Despite being there for just a week, Kirk Cousins already showed a tremendous amount of trust in his new weapon. 

Being injected into an offense that was in search of another top receiving weapon to pair with Justin Jefferson, this move might be exactly what Hockenson needed to try and live up to his lofty pre-draft projections.

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Story originally appeared on Hawkeyes Wire