From now until the 2019 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.
T.J. Hockenson/TE Iowa – 6’5” 243 lbs.
– Soft hands and usually catches the ball at its highest point
– Versatile route runner including short, intermediate, and deep patterns
– Runs crisp, clean routes and changes directions quickly for a man his size
– Big catch radius and can contort to poor throws
– Loves to block, uses his pads well, and drives defenders away until the whistle
– Hard to bring down with the pigskin in his hands
– Decent open field speed and will hurdle defenders
– A true two-way tight end that can block (run or pass) as well as he can snare the ball
– Can line up in-line, as a fullback or wingback, in the slot, or split out wide
– Good downfield vision reading blockers and locating ball in the air
– A strong center of gravity and has a mean stiff-arm to ward away would-be tacklers
–Quick, but not elite speed
–Very intense blocker (watch second Wisconsin video)
–Only two years of collegiate experience as a redshirt sophomore
–Sometimes gets lazy letting the ball into his body, instead of catching it cleanly
–2018 John Mackey Award (goes to the top tight end in the nation)
–2018 Ozzie Newsome Award winner
–Played in 23 college games with 73 receptions for 1080 yards and 9 touchdowns with one carry for 4 yards and a touchdown.
–2017 & 2018 Academic All-Big Ten
Split out wide left on a 2nd and 8, #38 motions towards the middle of the field and explodes off the line of scrimmage at the snap. Hockenson ducks around the outside backer while avoiding his corner until he decides to bounce off the defensive back to create more separation as his route climbs 15 yards downfield. He catches the pass in stride with outstretched hands and gets wrapped up around the ankles while having both hands securing the pigskin. The tight end looked more like a big wide out than a tight end on that play.
Hockenson lines up as the left tight end while in the red zone. At the snap, he gets beneath his pads and drives out the outside linebacker. #38 seals the defender off from the play and yet continues to block him even after the Iowa runner was on the ground. This shows his amazing run blocking tenacity and effective technique (a touch of crazy too?).
Lined up at the left wing, #38 races to seemly protect the backside of his quarterback at the snap. Instead he just slows down the blitzer enough for Hockenson to slip into the flats. He catches the ball cleanly and gets knocked back by a shoulder throwing safety. The tight end runs through that and a few more tackles while some spinning out of defenders’ grasps. #38 keeps his balance looking like he was running a bat race and tears down the sidelines while regaining his balance! The tight end gets brought down from behind for a 20 yard gain that should have lost yardage.
In the red zone against Penn State, Hockenson lines up as an inline tight end. At the snap, he stands up the defensive end lined up across from him, sensing he is losing that battle, #38 disengages from the defender and scurries into the flat. This gives the tight end a lot of room to work. He high hurdles the safety bearing down on him, and then secures the pigskin with two hands bracing for impact while trying to spin away as #38 is brought to the ground.
No Hockenson won’t be there at 20, but a Steelers fan can dream about a plus athletic Heath Miller, right?
Projection: Top 15, might be top 8
Games Watched: Wisconsin, Mississippi State, Iowa State, Penn State