By Lisa Johnson // @LJ1303
Topping this years draft board are two very talented tight ends who happen to be teammates.
Iowa’s T. J Hockenson and Noah Fant top many NFL draft analyst top 2 spots.
First on the board is T. J Hockenson, who surprised many as he declared for the 2019 NFL draft. It looks like his timing couldn’t have been any better.
With the news of New England Patriots all-pro tight end Rob Gronkowski‘s retirement, Hockenson quickly became a favorite to replace Gronkowski in New England. He had a favorable combine, running a very respectable 40 at a time of 4.7 seconds, and a vertical leap of 37.5″.
“In a draft that feels light on high-end talent, Hockenson is an ascending talent with a chance to become one of the best all-around tight ends in the game. He should continue to fill out his athletic frame, but he’s already a sound in-line blocker with the toughness to sustain and finish. His above-average athleticism and separation burst will help him win against linebackers while his body control and hands give him an advantage over safeties. Hockenson has standout talent and fits any scheme, but he could be coveted early by teams looking to delve more heavily in 12-personnel (two TE packages).” – Lance Zierlein, draft analyst for NFL.com
My draft projection: New Orleans Saints (2nd round)
With 10’+ broad jumps and blazing short shuttles, @HawkeyeFootball teammates Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson rank 1st and 3rd, respectively, in our updated 2019 TE Final Draft Score rankings.
How many tight ends could you see drafted in the 1st Round?
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) April 4, 2019
Teammate Noah Fant finished his 2018 season splitting reps with Hockenson. The 6’4″, 249 pounder finished the 2018 season with 39 receptions for 519 yards and 7 touchdowns.
While Hockenson has the better skill, build and hands, many feel Fant can quickly develop into a 3rd down starter.
“Pass-catching tight end with the length, acceleration and speed to create match-up challenges both short and long. Fant is at his best in open space and on the move as his catch-focus appears to wane when coverage crowds him or he hears footsteps. He needs to get stronger and more competitive at the point of attack to help a run game, but if that never happens, his ability to uncover and hit big plays will still make him a coveted prize for teams ready to add a move tight end as their new match-up toy.” Lance Zierlein
Draft projection: Washington Redskins (3rd round)
Talk the 2019 NFL Draft with Lisa on Twitter // @LJ1303