Wearing number 38 plays tricks on our eyes, but Iowa’s TJ Hockenson is no lumbering fullback. He’s a tight-end of the highest order and has the high-end skillset to win in any situation.
Immediately, Hockenson breaks out of stereotypes by being able to attack defenses down the field. He tracks the deep ball well and creates ample separation on slants and seam routes. When he’s unable to separate, Hockenson has the ability to get big in traffic and get tough yards after the catch. Hockenson has very good hands and will make athletic adjustments to poorly thrown balls. Iowa also leaned heavily on Hockenson to set the edge in the run game, which he did admirably.
Most of the negatives to Hockenson’s game are just a matter of cleaning up blocking techniques. He’s quicker off the line when headed out on a route than he is blocking, so a fast defensive end can give him fits. He also drops his blocks quicker than is ideal, sometimes not even waiting for the runner to be to him. (Part of this is an enthusiasm to get to the second level to continue the play. Hockenson also has a little trouble vs man when a defender gets hands on him at the line, stealing his quickness.
Noah Fant may grab the headlines with the Evan Engram comparisons, but TJ Hockenson is the real deal. He is the versatile, two-way tight end that everyone is always searching for.