T.J. Hockenson had another good season in 2021, and the Lions’ tight end lapped the field of NFL tight ends in one catch metric.
At the time of his thumb injury last season, T.J. Hockenson was leading the Lions in catches with 61 over 12 games. Overall for the season he finished third on the team in receptions, second in targets (84) and second in receiving yards (583).
Hockenson was a Pro Bowler in 2020, as he led all NFC tight ends in catches with 67. At 24 years old (25 in July) the eighth overall pick in the 2019 draft is a long-term piece of the equation in Detroit, starting with the team picking up his fifth-year option. A multi-year extension is coming, which will surely land him among the highest-paid tight ends in the league.
Hockenson was an obvious match for Jared Goff’s short area throw tendency when they were together on the field last year. And Hockenson was a reliable target at that, with just one drop (according to Pro Football Reference), which was important given the Lions lack of wide receiver talent.
Of course Amon-Ra St. Brown emerged when Hockenson was out injured late last season, and the talent level of the Lions wide receiver group has been raised in free agency (DJ Chark) and the draft (Jameson Williams). But Hockenson will still be among the team’s top pass catchers.
T.J. Hockenson lapped field of NFL tight ends in contested catch rate last year
Much like drops and deeper things like catchable/uncatchable targets, contested catches can be seen differently dependent on who’s doing the viewing.
But according to Fantasy Data, Hockenson clearly led NFL tight ends (mininum of 10 contested catches) in contested catch rate at 73.3 percent. Second was Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews, at 48.3 percent.
Hockenson getting so many chances at catches deemed to be contested is a testament to the trust Goff (primarily, with Tim Boyle starting one game when Hockenson was healthy) had in him.
There are certainly worse guys to trust than a fairly athletic 6-foot-5, 248-pound tight end in a contested throw/catch situation. Just give him a chance, and Hockenson reeled in those contested chances better than any other NFL tight end in 2021.