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Daniel Jeremiah: T.J. Hockenson is ‘the best blocking tight end I’ve ever evaluated’

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That’s some seriously high praise for the Lions’ first-round pick.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 03 Iowa at Purdue Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Detroit Lions drafted T.J. Hockenson knowing he could be a good two-way player for the team. Last year’s crew of tight ends were okay at blocking, but didn’t provide much of any spark to the passing game. In 2018, Hockenson finished fifth among all college tight ends with 760 receiving yards for Iowa.

But according to NFL Network’s draft expert Daniel Jeremiah, it’s his blocking that may benefit the Lions the most.

“He’s the best blocking tight end I’ve ever evaluated,” Jeremiah said as highlights of Hockenson driving defenders back played in the background. “The best. Look at him right now just putting people on the ground.”

It’s not just all talk, either. Pro Football Focus agrees that Hockenson’s blocking ability was among the nation’s best last year:

Coming from Iowa, not only did Hockenson get to play in a pro-style offense, but he faced some seriously beefy defensive lines in the Big Ten, and he impressed no matter who he played.

“He did it against everyone else he played against, and so he’s going to help the run game,” Jeremiah continued. “And then down in the red zone, third down, he’s going to help you in the pass game. He’ll have an immediate impact.”

Though Noah Fant was the more popular red zone target at Iowa (18 touchdowns in the last two years to Hockenson’s nine), Hockenson certainly has the skillset to take over that role in Detroit. He was already turning heads during OTAs with his strong and aggressive hands in red zone drills.

But those blocking skills may be more useful for the Lions in Hockenson’s rookie year. Detroit has plenty of receiving options and their commitment to running the ball could mean that their first-round pick may be utilized more as a key piece in their rushing attack than their passing game.