Where should Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson rank among his peers?

SideLion Report

T.J. Hockenson can be a divisive topic for Lions’ fans at times, but where should he rank among his peers at tight end?

With a Pro Bowl nod and two 60-plus catch seasons on his resume in three NFL seasons, T.J. Hockenson has taken his place as an integral part of the Detroit Lions‘ offense. Entering his fourth season, with his fifth-year option for 2023 picked up, he’s also in line for a nice contract extension.

Dallas Robinson of Pro Football Network ranked his top 32 tight ends in the NFL recently. Hockenson came in at No. 13, though it should be noted the retired (at least for now) Rob Gronkowski was No. 6. So let’s say Hockenson is now No. 12 in an updated ranking.

Jordan Dajani of CBS Sports recently offered his ranking of the top-10 tight ends in the league. He had Hockenson at No. 8.

We were all ready for a breakout season from Hockenson in 2022 (2021. He started off hot, as the Detroit Lions’ tight end caught 16 passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns in his first two contests, but then tapered off a bit.

Despite how the campaign ended, Hockenson set a career high in receiving yards per game with 48.6, which ranked eighth among all tight ends, and boasted a 72.6% catch rate. He took a pretty big step backwards as a run blocker in 2021, according to PFF, but was still a reliable target who Jared Goff liked. Hockenson made the Pro Bowl in 2020, and maybe a career campaign is coming in 2022. His best football is ahead of him.

Where should T.J. Hockenson rank among his tight end peers?

Sometime fairly soon, by average salary, Hockenson will be somewhere around a top-five tight end in the league when he gets his new contract. At 24 years old (25 on July 3), the idea his best football is ahead of him is not necessarily fresh.

Let’s do a run of tight ends we’d clearly rank ahead of Hockenson.

Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, George Kittle, Kyle Pitts, Darren Waller.

Then comes a gray area, where Dalton Schultz, Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz and Mike Gesicki reside along with Hockenson. PFN’s list had Hunter Henry and Dawson Knox immediately ahead of Hockenson, and Gesicki lands ahead of him on both of the previously mentioned lists.

Knox and Henry are not better players than Hockenson. Schultz, Goedert, Ertz and Gesicki aren’t substantially better right now, if they can be considered better.

Some stray Lions’ fans might disagree, while also trying to advance ideas the team doesn’t value him enough to give him a market value deal and rookie James Mitchell was drafted to replace him. Others just might want to see more before buying in. But Hockenson is a top-10 tight end in the NFL.

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