Monday, December 06, 2021

Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson makes top pass catchers list


by Brad Berreman

December 4, 2021


T.J. Hockenson has been a bright spot for the Lions this season, and he has now been recognized on a league-wide list.


There aren’t many good things going for the Detroit Lions’ offense this season, but tight end T.J. Hockenson is clearly one. He’s leading the team in catches (57), targets (76), receiving yards (534) and receiving touchdowns (three), and with running back D’Andre Swift possibly out multiple games Hockenson is set to lap the field of Lions’ remaining pass catchers.


Hockenson is generally regarded among the league’s best tight ends. He has not had a dropped pass yet this season, with a contested catch rate that’s second-best at the position (71.4 percent).


T.J. Hockenson gets recognized on list of best pass catchers in NFL


Hockenson, the only tight end on the list, came in at No. 10,  Here’s what Shook wrote.


….Hockenson earned his spot in part because he’s seen more targets than any other pass-catcher on the Lions’ roster. Jared Goff has relied heavily on Hockenson because, well, the Pro Bowl tight end has proven he’ll catch the ball more consistently than any of his teammates. Although he and rookie receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown are tied in catch percentage (75%), Hockenson’s reliability stands out when you consider he’s seen a significantly higher volume of targets (76 to Brown’s 52).


But enough with splitting numerical hairs. Hockenson owns the best catch rate over expected on targets of fewer than 10 air yards — his wheelhouse as a traditional tight end — and his +5.4 percent catch rate over expected is the second best among NFL tight ends this season. He’s also expanded his capabilities, recording a catch rate over expected of +8.3 percent down the seams (-1.2% in 2020).


In light of Goff’s tendency to hardly throw downfield, Hockenson’s proficiency on targets of fewer than 10 air yards isn’t too surprising. But his catch rate over expected down the seams is net 9.5 percent higher than last year when Matthew Stafford was his quarterback. The latter number is an easy function of Hockenson playing the second-most slot snaps among tight ends thus far this season (220, according to Player Profiler).


Hockenson is the Lions’ No. 1 receiver, and he’s in line for even more targets while Swift is out.  A bright spot in a winless season so far for Detroit has been recognized broadly, with deeper data backing it up.

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