T.J. Hockenson hasn’t had the most fantastic start to the season, but the Lions tight end has still been placed among the best at the position thus far via Next Gen Stats.
Remove a record-setting “smash” game against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 4 (eight catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns), and it has not been the greatest start to the season for Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson. In his four other games, he has totaled 11 receptions for 88 yards.
Of course deeper metrics can uncover things traditional stats can’t. Hockenson is inherently dependent on Jared Goff throwing him the ball, and doing so accurately more often than not. The New England Patriots made it a clear priority to take Hockenson away in Week 5, and they shut the Lions out.
NFL Next Gen Stats Analytics has ranked the top tight ends in the league based on some deeper metrics and with an overall score based on those metrics through Week 5.
T.J. Hockenson ranked among top tight ends by Next Gen Stats
The top of these tight end rankings is not surprising. Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews are No. 1 and No. 2. They are followed by a mix of surprises (David Njoku–No. 3, Will Dissly–No. 6,), notable names (Dallas Goedert–No. 4, Zach Ertz–No. 5) and someone who’s in-between (Pat Freiermuth–No. 7).
Hockenson landed at No. 8, ahead of Tyler Higbee and Tyler Conklin.
Play-time percentage: 87
Receiving score: 75
Blocking score: 37
OVERALL SCORE: 73
Hockenson’s athleticism has been on full display, with the former top-10 pick gaining +76 yards after catch over expected, which is tied for first among tight ends with Dallas Goedert. Hockenson has averaged 7.9 receiving yards per target in 2022, fourth among TEs with at least 20 targets.
Hockenson is part of a young core of skill-position players who might finally help Detroit “restore the roar.”
An 81-yard play in the game against Seattle accounted for +68 of that +76 yards after the catch over expected for Hockenson. But to be a plus at all in that category is a good thing.
If not for that lackluster blocking score, the lowest among the 10 tight ends who were ranked and a good bit lower than most of the other nine, Hockenson might have landed top-five on this list.