The NFL trade deadline lived up to the hype in 2022, with several crazy trades making headlines. That statement holds true for the Minnesota Vikings, who decided to make a splash of their own prior to the 3 p.m. CST cutoff time for trades in the NFL.
Shortly after the T.J. Hockenson trade news came out, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Irv Smith Jr. is expected to miss 8-10 weeks with a high ankle sprain. Minnesota had some bitter-sweet news, but their offense received a much-needed spark on Tuesday afternoon.
Hockenson was the 8th overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft out of the University of Iowa. The 25-year-old stands at 6’5”, 251 lbs. and ran a 4.70 40-yard dash ranking him in the 72nd percentile at the tight end position according to playerprofiler.com.
Over the course of his first three-and-a-half seasons in the NFL, Hockenson’s stats don't necessarily jump off the stat sheet, but it should also be noted that he’s played on a subpar team over that duration. The former Hawkeye leaves behind a 1-6 team for an NFC North leading 6-1 Vikings team that’s loaded with talent on offense.
The offense will consist of Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, KJ Osborn, Dalvin Cook and now arguably the best tight end the team has had in the last decade with Hockenson. The Vikings have been in need of more splash plays, and it’s fair to expect an increase out of the tight end position moving forward.
As ESPN’s Kevin Seifert noted in the above Tweet, this has been a specialty in Hockenson’s game this season. Leading all tight ends in the NFL with an average of 15.2 yards per catch, with 8.3 of those yards coming after the catch.
The mixture of size and athleticism will allow Kevin O’Connell to create mismatches with Hockenson from the slot or as an in-line tight end. It should also be noted that Hockenson is as physical as they come at the tight end position and is a more than willing participant in the run blocking game as well.
Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense needed some sort of spark that would allow them to open up the offense further. They got that and more in the Hockenson trade on Tuesday, all while likely only moving back two rounds in 2023 and one round in 2024.
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