TJ Hockenson: Mr. I Can Do It All at Tight End

Welcome to the 48 Report, a full working database including 48 of our favorite 2019 Draft Prospects. The key, however, is that we focus specifically on their ability to translate as fantasy football players. All players in the database have been/will be scored by 3 writers, and this is their article; explaining their aggregate score, as well as the score of their writer.

All categories are scored on a 1-5 scale; with 5 being the highest score a prospect can receive. The highest aggregate average scores a player can receive is 25. Articles will be posted January-April, all the way up to the draft. Ratings will be adjusted after the combine, based on measurables and after the draft, because as we all know: landing spot matters.

TJ Hockenson (6’5”, 243) Tight End, Iowa

19.3 Aggregate Score (4 Star Prospect)

TJ Hockenson has been a huge riser as this class has developed. Overshadowed in Devy circles by his teammate Noah Fant, he has not been household name, until now. Hockenson plays the tight end position like it should be played. He does the dirty work in the trenches at a high level and he showcases route running and pass catching ability at all levels of the field. He is also an underrated athlete, again overshadowed by Fant who just happens to be a freak. He will surprise some at the combine likely putting up solid to strong numbers across the board. He is a top 2 tight end in this class in both the NFL and fantasy. So which is it it, 1 or 2?

College Production

Tight end production in college is not a pretty thing to look at, but the fact that he and Fant  both produced at the level they did in the same offense is remarkable. Hockenson put up 49 receptions for 760 yards and 6 scores in his sophomore year before declaring for the draft. He caught 10 more balls for 140 more yards than Fant. Both of them outproduced George Kittle who graduated as Hockenson came on campus. Hock also averaged over 15 yards per catch. This is a big time stat especially for a guy who has been labeled by some (incorrectly) as average athletically. All this to say, that while the numbers don’t jump of the page, this is still an impressive stat line. Iowa has a knack for churning out tight end talent and these two are no different.

Speed & Acceleration: Aggregate Score: 3.6 (Personal Score: 4)

I will continue to harp on the fact that Hockenson is an underrated athlete. He creates space and can outrun linebackers no problem. Combine this with his route running and he will have no issue getting open at the next level. One area he can continue to work on is exploding out of the block.

Route Running: Aggregate Score: 3.6 (Personal Score: 4)

Hockenson is a strong route runner. Quick feet and an ability to sell head fakes and quick twitches allow him to set up defenders and separate at a high level. He did often line up against linebackers and safeties though which will be a much taller task at the NFL level where these players can recover much easier.

Blocking: Aggregate Score: 4.6 (Personal Score: 5)

Hock has made a name for himself as one of the best blockers in this class. This really makes him the total package as a tight end prospect and it will be big in getting and keeping him on the field early in his career. He blocks with an aggressiveness and power that is great to see for a guy who is only listed on 243 lbs.

Handwork and Positioning: Aggregate Score: 3.6 (Personal Score: 4)

Hockenson continues the theme of well rounded with good scores here as well. A strong hands catcher with a knack for using his considerable size to his advantage, he will succeed in contested situations against linebackers and safeties early and often.

Athleticism: Aggregate Score: 3.6 (Personal Score: 4)

Basically the only reason reason I didn’t personally give him a 5 in athleticism is that Noah Fant is absurd. Hockenson made some noise at the combine with big time explosive numbers in the jumps and great numbers in the agility drills. The 4.7 forty isn’t great but that is plenty of speed for a tight end who has big time pluses across the rest of the board.

Conclusion: Mid 1st Round Target

I have no fear drafting TJ in the 1st round of your rookie drafts. In superflex, he should probably go in the late 1st. He may take some time to reach his full potential, but the lack of tight end talent in the NFL makes him a worthwhile 1st rounder for any team in need of a tight end. An interesting side note is that tight ends like OJ Howard and David Njoku have held their value well even after some lackluster seasons. While I still have him ranked behind Fant, he could easily have an argument to be the first tight end off the board when landing spots are assigned.

Kaden Smith: 3 Star Fantasy Football Prospect

Welcome to the 48 Report, a full working database including 48 of our favorite 2019 Draft Prospects. The key, however, is that we focus specifically on their ability to translate as fantasy football players. All players in the database have been/will be scored by 3 writers, and this is their article; explaining their aggregate score, as well as the score of their writer.

All categories are scored on a 1-5 scale; with 5 being the highest score a prospect can receive. The highest aggregate average scores a player can receive is 25. Articles will be posted January-April, all the way up to the draft. Ratings will be adjusted after the combine, based on measurables and after the draft, because as we all know: landing spot matters.

Kaden Smith (6’5”, 259) Tight End, Stanford.

15 Aggregate Score (3 Star Prospect)

The tight end position was an absolute mess in 2018 for Fantasy Football. Outside of the top tier options, there was a whole lot of nothing from the position. With that being the case, the 2019 NFL Draft will look to infuse the NFL with some top talent at the position.

Up first for the tight end position is Kaden Smith out of Stanford. A 4 star recruit out of Flower Mound Texas, Smith has had a solid career with production that warrants mid-round draft consideration. While playing in 15 games for Marcus high school, Smith accumulated 678 total yards on 43 catches and hauled in 5 touchdowns.

College Production

After committing to Stanford and not seeing action as a freshman in 2016, Smith played in 14 games in his sophomore season hauling in 23 catches for 414 yards and 5 touchdowns. His season was highlighted by a 4 catch-80 yard-2 touchdown performance against USC in the Pac-12 Championship game. This past year as a junior, Smith earned All-Pac-12 second team honors and was a Mackey Award finalist. In 10 games, he totaled 635 yards on 47 receptions and scored 2 touchdowns.

At first glance, the production doesn’t seem to be overwhelming but this is the typical production of a college tight end. In comparison to fellow draft class tight ends Noah Fant and Dawson Knox, Smith could make an argument as the top tight end in the class in terms of production although Fant’s touchdown production was pretty off the charts.

All in all, Smith had a productive collegiate career that will certainly have scouts talking. Let’s do a deep dive into some particular attributes for Kaden Smith.

Speed/Acceleration: Aggregate Score: 2.3 (Personal Score: 2)

Smith definitely isn’t the fastest guy on the field. While he moves well for his size, he won’t be known for running past defenders. While watching tape, Smith doesn’t seem to add anything in terms of yards after the catch. His combine 40 time could make or break him and could be the difference between the 3rd round or the 5th round.

Route Running: Aggregate Score: 2.3 (Personal Score: 2)

Due to his lack of speed, Smith’s route running abilities are pretty subpar. He doesn’t really have burst when coming out of his routes, which could be a problem at the NFL level. I’ll get to why I actually believe he’ll be ok in a minute but overall; Smith needs some polish on his route tree. The seam route is easily his best route and he runs it well, often in perfect position while utilizing his size to block out the defender.

Blocking: Aggregate Score: 4 (Personal Score: 4)

Ah yes, Blocking. The ultimate sign of a fantasy gem at the tight end position, how could you go wrong with a strong blocker! In all seriousness, I saw a plus blocking tight end while watching the film on Smith. He does not shy away from contact (at his size, why would he?) and engages defenders with a good, low base to support his blocks. He is rarely out of position on his block attempts and helped spring some huge plays for Stanford running back Bryce Love. His abilities as a pass catcher leave a lot to be desired but his blocking ability will be an immediate help at the NFL level.

Handwork/Positioning: Aggregate Score: 2.6 (Personal Score: 3)

Kaden Smith, while not being the most precise route runner or a burner, has very solid hands. He made some pretty nice catches this past season and can be relied on if the ball is thrown in his area. However, his hand usage when trying to separate from defenders needs work. He consistently lost that battle this past season and will need to refine his technique before becoming a threat in the passing game. There’s potential here but he’ll need a solid tight end coach. Get him into one of those Aaron Donald-type knife combat training sessions and he should be good to go…or he might get stabbed, let’s hope for the other one though.

Athleticism: Aggregate Score: 3.6 (Personal Score: 3)

Smith has the size and strength that you like to see from an NFL tight end. He’s pretty athletic for a guy his size but that can be a blessing and a curse. Smith often relies on his athleticism far too often in the passing game and that will not win him battles at the NFL level. Defenders will be just as athletic if not more so he will need to develop his other tools in order to be a presence.

Conclusion: 3rd round target

I don’t expect Smith to have a substantial enough rookie season to warrant spending a high pick on. I would like to point out that if he ended up on a team like the Rams then that could possibly change but right now, I don’t see a heavy contributor in year 1. If you deem him not worthy enough for a draft pick then I wouldn’t blame you but he’s an interesting late round flyer at a position that was bare bones in 2018. He could be worth the late round flyer.