In the National Football League, elite tight ends come at a premium. The name of elite tight ends can be counted on one hand and just lost another member in Rob Gronkowski. Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and George Kittle round out the list. Players like Greg Olsen, Jimmy Graham, and Delanie Walker are fading. It’s time for a new crop of tight ends to emerge. Evan Engram, O.J Howard, and David Njoku are others who are rising at the position. Since tight ends are few and far between, the elite ones are extremely valuable.
Some analysts think drafting a tight end top 10 overall is a waste. But, this is just untrue, with no statistics or evidence to backup this subjective claim. Take away position bias, look at sheer value and talent and Iowa’s T.J Hockenson may be one of the best players in the draft. He truly couId be the “best player available” at 9th overall. If you look at Hockenson objectively, you will realize that he is a top level talent. Selecting him 9th overall would be a fantastic move for the Buffalo Bills. Too many fans are saying the Bills should not take him because they hear analysts in the media claiming a tight end top 10 isn’t smart instead of being objective.
Why Hockenson is Elite?
Hockenson comes in at 6-foot-5 251 lbs which is pretty great size for an NFL tight end. He is slightly bigger than Ertz and Kittle and slightly smaller than Kelce. His 4.70 second 40 yard dash time is faster than Ertz and right around Gronkowski and Kelce’s. 4.70 is a solid time for a player over 250 lbs. He was 2nd at the combine in nearly every category showing above average athleticism, burst, explosiveness and strength.
Hockenson won the 2018 John Mackey Award for being the best tight end in the country. He won this even over his teammate Noah Fant. He also won the award for best tight end in the Big Ten Conference and was first team all conference. His 760 yards and 6 TD’s were dominant and would have been even better if not for Fant competing with him for targets.
Hockenson over Noah Fant as the Top Tight End?
Fant is an athletic freak at the tight end position and there is no doubt about that. He lit the combine on fire leading in nearly every single category with 4.5 second 40 yard dash speed. He is one of the most athletic tight ends the NFL Draft has seen and was great at Iowa as well. Both these Iowa tight ends are best in class. So why is Hockenson better?
Despite being the athletic monster he is, Fant is a little smaller and was outproduced by Hockenson. Hockenson had more catches, more yards, and only one less touchdown showing that he straight up outplayed Fant. He was second in nearly every category at the combine and Fant was usually the one ahead of him so Hockenson isn’t too much behind Fant athletically anyways.
While Fant is athletic, he lacks in the blocking department. He projects as a tight end who needs to find the right offense because he will most likely only be used as a pass catching tight end. This limits his upside and value. Hockenson is an excellent blocker in the pass and running game. He can play all three downs in the NFL and can be used in various ways. He is only slightly less athletic, is an elite receiver shown by his production, and also has an elite blocking profile whereas Fant has a poor blocking profile.
How Hockenson Fits in With the Bills?
Hockenson at pick 9 may just be the be best player available. Selecting him would do wonders for the Bills offense. He can block every down providing support in the run game or pass game which will assist the offensive line immensely. He can also catch passes anywhere on the field providing a dual threat option who is more than capable of being an elite pass catching tight end. With John Brown and Robert Foster stretching the field, a combination of Hockenson, Zay Jones and Cole Beasley would feast on defenses in the intermediate areas. Lastly, a great tight end who can step in and play every down could be a safety blanket for Josh Allen when his deep options aren’t open.
There are almost no downsides to Hockenson’s game. He has the talent to effect an offense in a variety of ways. He is a complete tight end prospect and if position bias isn’t factored in, he may be one of the most impactful players in the entire 2019 draft. His talent in every area of the game/versatility could take the Bills offense to an elite level.