Detroit Lions rookie TE T.J. Hockenson set an NFL record with his stat line in Week 1.
The Detroit Lions made one of the safest selections in the 2019 NFL draft when they chose former Iowa TE T.J. Hockenson with the eighth overall pick. He was considered by many to be the best football player in the class and if his NFL debut Sunday is any indication of his career to come, his pre-draft assessment was right on the money.
Hockenson was an absolute stud in the Lions’ tie with the Cardinals in Week 1. He finished the game with six catches for 131 yards. He was noticeably faster and quicker than the Arizona linebackers charged with covering him and he flashed some after-the-catch ability, too.
Hockenson’s stat line was the best NFL debut by a tight end in 59 years. He broke former 49ers TE Monty Stickles record of 123 yards set in 1960.
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The Lions did take a calculated risk when they drafted Hockenson even though he was graded as a can’t miss player. Tight ends usually take several seasons to mature into the player they’ll be for the longterm, which makes Hockenson’s debut that much more impressive.
Detroit’s offense could be one of the more surprisingly productive units in the NFL this season, especially with Hockenson locked and loaded to make a significant impact. He, combined with second-year RB Kerryon Johnson and star-in-the-making WR Kenny Golladay, QB Matthew Stafford may just have the best cast of skill players around him since the days of Calvin Johnson.
The challenge for Hockenson now is to maintain the standard he set for himself in the opener. The Lions face a more difficult challenge in Week 2 against the Chargers, and with Los Angeles likely to jump out to a lead in that game, expect Hockenson to have plenty of targets to make an impact again.