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.
hock showed up average in typical metrics (YPRR, PFF grade) because goff didn't have a good connection with him but when using ESPN's tracking data metrics he has shown up very highly these past two years— Tej Seth (@tejfbanalytics) November 1, 2022
kwesi adofo-mensah is probably using these when making these decisions pic.twitter.com/jbsgItlikp
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.
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:
Vikings running a flea flicker screen from their duo presentation pic.twitter.com/ADGCRSTWPS— Shawn (@syedschemes) October 10, 2022
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:
T.J. Hockenson breaking tackles on the way to 81 yards on a shallow route pic.twitter.com/uGqMBIn3B0— Shawn (@syedschemes) November 1, 2022
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:
Another first half 3rd down. T.J. Edwards in 1 on 1 coverage on an Under route pic.twitter.com/gRRClLtI6r— Shawn (@syedschemes) September 20, 2022
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:
T.J. Hockenson showing off his catch radius pic.twitter.com/0Qz16kxaE9— Shawn (@syedschemes) November 1, 2022
T.J. Hockenson getting open on what looks like Choice Stuckohttps://t.co/stR3m4o9vt pic.twitter.com/UJkRjWkj5h— Shawn (@syedschemes) November 1, 2022
Hockenson even earned the respect of Bill Belichick earlier this year:
Patriots' main priortsy v the Lions offense was making TJ Hockenson's life hell pic.twitter.com/nxFjlaAwvw— Taylor Kyles (@tkyles39) October 12, 2022
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 in pass pro off sift action pic.twitter.com/VaKPlrrhjC— Shawn (@syedschemes) November 1, 2022
T.J. Hockenson run blocking pic.twitter.com/pR44rzoNev— Shawn (@syedschemes) November 1, 2022
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.