| The Detroit News
The NFL released its first batch of Pro Bowl voting results and a Detroit Lions player is sitting atop of his position group.
Second-year tight end T.J. Hockenson, with 88,236 votes as of Wednesday evening, is leading all NFC tight ends.
Selected No. 8 overall in the 2019 draft, Hockenson has made significant strides in his consistency and production this season. Though 11 games, he’s caught 45 passes for 530 yards and five touchdowns.
Those numbers are good enough to lead the conference in both receptions and yardage for the position. Only Green Bay’s Robert Tonyan has more touchdown grabs.
In the voting, Hockenson ranks ahead of more popular names, such as George Kittle and Rob Gronkowski.
Kittle, a two-time Pro Bowler, has been limited to six games this season due to injury. He’s currently sidelined with a foot fracture. Gronkowski, making his return from retirement after sitting out a season, is coming off his first 100-yard game of the season, but hasn’t been able to recapture the impact he had during nine seasons in New England. In 12 games, he has 37 catches for 505 yards and four touchdowns.
Hockenson vote total ranks third overall for tight ends behind Kansas City’s Travis Kelce and Oakland’s Darren Waller.
Kelce leads all tight ends with 978 yards and is poised to go over 1,000 yards receiving for the fifth consecutive season. Last year, he became the first tight end to accomplish the feat four straight years.
In addition to Hockenson, the only other Lions player to crack the top-10 in voting at their position was punter Jack Fox, who ranked seventh overall and sixth in the NFC.
Fox, in his first full season, is currently leading the league in both net and gross punting. He still has a shot of breaking the league’s all-time mark for net average, set by Johnny Hekker of the Los Angeles Rams in 2016.
Hekker, with a more established track record than Fox, is leading punters in Pro Bowl votes.
The fan vote makes up one-third of the selection process, with the league’s players and coaches making up the remainder. The NFL already has canceled this year’s Pro Bowl game due to the ongoing pandemic, but will still announce the rosters in December.