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Skol Schemes, Trade Deadline: The Incredible Hock

Looking at the different ways T.J. Hockenson can help improve the Minnesota Vikings offense

Detroit Lions v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

November 1st is an interesting day on the calendar. For some, it is a reminder to expect a candy hangover from notable cavity inducers such as Kit Kats, Skittles, or my personal favorite, Sour Patch. For others, it marks the first (borderline) socially acceptable day to open up a box of winter decor.

For the 6-1 Vikings, November 1st was a busy day as the 3 p.m. CST trade deadline approached. Minnesota ended up sending a 2023 second-round pick and 2024 third-round pick to the Detroit Lions for former top 10 pick T.J. Hockenson as well as a 2023 fourth-round pick and a 2024 conditional pick.

Hockenson, who won the Mackey Award in 2018 (given to college football’s most outstanding Tight End), brings a much needed boost to the injury hampered Vikings Tight End room. Hockenson can break tackles and create yards after the catch, run clean routes and make contested catches, and has the tools to block when needed.

YAC attack

The Vikings Tight Ends have struggled after the catch. Despite a sound scheme and numerous opportunities, the Vikings Tight Ends rank 30th in Next Gen Stats’ Yards After Catch Over Expected metric. Before Tuesday, the Vikings Tight Ends did not present a great threat in the open field:

T.J. Hockenson ranks second behind only Christian McCaffrey in YAC Over Expected amongst all NFL players. Hockenson has shown explosiveness, the ability to break tackles, and is a legitimate vertical threat on the outside:

Receiving skills

When teams see the Vikings on their schedule, they know they must account for Justin Jefferson. In Week 2, I wrote about how the Eagles treated Jefferson. In Week 3, I wrote about how the Lions devoted resources to #18. The Dolphins were more than happy to watch Kirk Cousins throw the ball to other receivers in Week 6, while the Eagles also benefitted from challenging the Vikings other threats:

Hockenson will likely have favorable matchups as the defense’s primary pass game focus will be on Justin Jefferson. Hockenson has shown all the skills needed to thrive in the Vikings offense. He can run crisp routes, high point the ball on the move, and finish catches in traffic:

Hockenson even earned the respect of Bill Belichick earlier this year:


Though not asked to block too often while in Detroit, T.J. Hockenson possesses all the tools needed to be an adequate blocker. Minnesota can still use Johnny Mundt in two Tight End sets or even split out Hockenson in a receiver role to present the defense with a problem: Do you bring out base personnel because there are two tight ends on the field or do you move to your nickel package with a receiving threat like Hockenson running routes? Depending on how the defense answers this question, space may open up for Dalvin Cook in the run game or Adam Thielen in the pass game.

T.J Hockenson brings both great ability and great hair to the Minnesota Vikings. He has already shown his talents as a receiver this year, and Kevin O’Connell should be excited about the new possibilities to continue to open up his offense.