Through the first three weeks of the 2022 NFL season, it was looking like it might be a quiet year for former Iowa Hawkeye, T.J. Hockenson, tight end for the Detroit Lions.
As part of one of the top offenses in the league through this point, the star tight end began the year in the back seat behind playmakers such as D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown, as he had only 10 receptions through the team’s first three games.
Fans were unsure of what to expect this year from the 4th year tight end. However, it seems like the script may have flipped on the 2022 season for Hockenson after the Lions’ week four matchup with the Seahawks.
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) June 2, 2021
Who Is T.J. Hockenson?
With the 8th overall pick, in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions selected tight end, T.J. Hockenson, from the University of Iowa.
He was selected just 12 picks earlier than teammate and fellow tight end at the University of Iowa, Noah Fant, who was taken with the 20th overall pick, by the Denver Broncos.
After redshirting in his freshman year, in 2016, Hockenson went on to catch 70 passes for 1,037 yards, compiling 9 touchdowns. He also rushed for a touchdown during the 2018 Iowa season.
In his first season with the Lions, Hockenson played in 12 games, catching 32 passes for 367 yards and two touchdowns. Over his next two seasons, he played in 28 games, starting all 16 of the Lions’ games in the 2020 season.
During that span, he caught 128 passes for 1,308 yards and 10 touchdowns. After his first three seasons, Hockenson had established himself as one of the premier tight ends in the NFL, even earning a trip to the Pro Bowl after the 2020 season.
It’s almost Pro Bowl time @lions fans 🦁
— TJ Hockenson (@TheeHOCK8) December 1, 2021
2022 Season: Is It T. J.’s Year?
Moving on to the 2022 season, all signs pointed to the incoming 4th-year tight end continuing the trend and having yet another strong year for the Lions. However, through the first three weeks of the season, Hockenson had only 82 receiving yards and one touchdown.
It seemed as if he was getting lost inside of Detroit’s high-powered offense which ranks among the top of the league through the first four weeks of the season.
Despite minimal production through this point of the season, Hockenson exploded in the Lions’ week four matchup with the Seahawks, catching 8 passes for 179 yards, along with two touchdowns and a two-point conversion.
This performance nearly doubled his reception totals, tripled his receiving yards, and tripled his touchdowns through this point of the young 2022 season.
Hockenson came alive early, catching a 32-yard touchdown pass from Jared Goff midway through the first quarter. Late in the third quarter, Hockenson would catch a pass and run for 81 yards, nearly doubling his receiving yards through the season on that play alone. The Lions would lose this game in an offensive shootout to the Seahawks, 48-45.
Our guy @TheeHOCK8 at Lions media day 😁
— Hawkeye Football (@HawkeyeFootball) June 8, 2021
The Rise Of T.J. Hockenson
Although the game would end in a loss for Hockenson and the Lions, there was a major bright spot for the team, and that was the rise of T.J. Hockenson. The Lions were missing their top two offensive weapons, in D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown due to injury.
This provided the perfect opportunity for T.J. Hockenson to show the world that he was still the premier tight end that had been established at the University of Iowa and through this point with the Detroit Lions.
Lions’ offensive coordinator, Ben Johnson has shown significant creativity in his play calling and ability to guide his offense through high-scoring contests week in and week out. Even having their top two offensive weapons sidelined, the Lions showed no problems putting points on the board and that is widely due to the breakout performance from T.J. Hockenson.
One thing is abundantly clear after the week four matchup between the Lions and Seahawks, and that is that Hockenson is going to need to remain a major part of the Lions’ offense going forward if the team wants to be successful.
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) December 5, 2021
As the Lions are unsure of the returns of both Swift and St. Brown, the offense will look to keep Hockenson as a major contributor to their offensive power. The sudden rise of T.J. Hockenson is something that the Lions will look to continue in the coming weeks of the season.
Maintaining this production will make the Lions even more dangerous as an offense than they already are. The 2020 Pro Bowler has shown time and time again what he is capable of when the ball is put in his hands.
T.J. Hockenson is rising up for the Lions, resurging as an offensive threat in week four, and is looking to continue that trend throughout the course of the season.
You will love every second of this, we guarantee it.
— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) May 17, 2021