Before the NFL trade deadline, the Minnesota Vikings made a splash, unlike any time we’ve seen in recent memory. While big names get moved at the deadline, it’s hardly the frenzy the NBA or MLB trade deadline tends to be. Even if it is, it doesn’t happen for Minnesota — until it does.
With Kwesi Adofo-Mensah being dealt the news that Irv Smith Jr. will miss the next 8-10 weeks, essentially ending his season, the new general manager swung big and landed arguably the best skill position player moved at the deadline. Rescuing T.J. Hockenson from the clutches of Detroit, he brought him from a 1-6 team to a 6-1 team and gave Kirk Cousins an upgrade despite losing Smith Jr. in the process.
It’s hard to state just how impressive Hockenson’s debut was for Minnesota. Even after joining the team just days earlier and virtually boarding a plane to Washington, he turned in a snap share of over 90% and brought in nine receptions. That only allows us to dream about what may be to come.
Only once with the Lions this season did Hockenson surpass seven targets. He got 12 against the Seattle Seahawks during a Week 4 matchup and turned the looks into 179 yards and two touchdowns. While Jared Goff is clearly not the talent that Kirk Cousins is, Hockenson can be more adequately covered with a Lions offense void of a Justin Jefferson threat to compliment him.
A former 8th overall pick, Hockenson has always looked the part of the athletic tight end that Rob Gronkowski paved the way for. He has decent speed and quickness while utilizing strong hands to secure passes. Hockenson isn’t limited solely as a receiver either and has shown good ability in both the pass and run-blocking portion of an offense.
Considering how strong his debut was, it’s exciting to dream about what could be next. Hockenson put forth an immense effort to understand play calls and the offense so he could remain on the field. As he gets more acclimated with Cousins as a quarterback and the Vikings scheme as a whole, he should only settle in further.
Adding a talent like Hockenson allows Minnesota to expand upon his role down the stretch and into the 2023 season. Jefferson has needed a running mate to take pressure off of him, and Cousins was badly looking for another option to stretch the field. He showed up in Washington, and that should be just the start of something extraordinary.
Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.