No draft pick should be judged after just one season, especially when that player is at a position like tight end. The same could be said for year two as well, but when someone is selected eighth-overall like T.J. Hockenson, there is understandably less patience across the fan base.
Hockenson enters 2020 after a modest rookie campaign. His 367 receiving yards rank 21st among rookie tight ends over the past decade, and his 32 receptions and two touchdowns were in line with expectation, although overall uninspiring. Some disappointment stemmed from an outstanding debut that featured 131 yards and a score on six catches, perhaps setting the bar too high. A late-season injury also limited his season to 12 games.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
What would be a successful season for T.J. Hockenson?
My answer: Stats are not everything for a tight end, but they will certainly be the first place fans look when judging Hockenson. His rookie numbers were never going to be that impressive, but aside from Week 1, he did little-to-nothing in the box score. Even more discouraging is the fact that his big game came against a team that gave up over 100 yards four times to tight ends and allowed 16(!) total touchdowns against the position in 2019.
Hockenson’s 30.6 yards per game in his rookie year falls sixth among tight ends drafted in the first two rounds. These players increased this figure by an average of 20 yards in their sophomore season. It seems unlikely he will put up 800 yards next season, but is an average of 40 yards per game out of the question? I think Lions fans should be looking for over 600 yards by the end of the year, which should put him in the conversation for third-best receiving option.
There are a lot of mouths to feed in this offense, but Detroit did not draft Hockenson in the top 10 just for his blocking abilities. If he can stay healthy, he should make a noticeable jump in production during his second season.