Many Detroit Lions players have something to prove this season, but Pro Football Focus has targeted one in particular.
If you were making a list of Detroit Lions players with something to prove in the 2022 season, it could get pretty long. The players on both sides of the ball fit the description, that they’re trying to prove they can stay healthy, that they’re trying to prove that a breakthrough season wasn’t a fluke, that they trying to prove they can remain a starter in the league, trying to take the next step in a young career, etc.
Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus recently named a player from each NFL team with the most to prove in 2022. For the Lions, the pick was….
DETROIT LIONS: TE TJ HOCKENSON
2021 PFF score: 68.1
If Hockenson doesn’t sign a contract extension before the 2022 season, he has a chance to reset the tight market with a breakout year.
TJ Hockenson indeed has a lot to prove this season
Hockenson has put together more than 60 straight catch-up seasons, and he did so last year despite missing the final five games of the season. In 2020, he was second among NFC tight ends in receptions (67) and earned a Pro Bowl selection.
Injuries have cost Hockenson a lot of time in two of his three seasons, and at least at Pro Football Focus, he’s trending in the wrong direction as a tackle.
Hockenson, 25, seems to have another level in him, and Lions head coach Dan Campbell knows he’s there.
Here’s what Campbell said after an OTA practice in June.
Here’s the beauty of Hockenson, and I’ve said it before, he’s a guy who’s a willing blocker and has the ability to win a one-on-one game in the passing game,” Campbell said. . “So when you have that ability and you’re ready to jump in and mix it all up in the running game, that’s a good thing. Those guys aren’t always easy to find.
The Lions have picked up Hockenson’s fifth-year option for 2023. But the longer it takes them to sign him to a long-term deal, which should be when and not if, the more expensive it will be. David Njoku may not be the last with far fewer resumes than Hockenson (and others, like Darren Waller) to secure a deal that pushes the tight market higher.
Hockenson and his camp can settle for negotiating contracts within the season and bet on a healthy, breakout season (or at least be in the middle of one).
It’s hard to achieve, as Kyed hinted, “a chance to reset the tight end market” with a breakout year. But Hockenson may have to show he’s one of the elite tight ends, not a cut below, before the Lions pony pays him like one – since he’s under contract for two years anyway. .
There’s no denying that Hockenson has a lot to prove in his fourth season, although it could be debated whether he’s the Lion with the most to prove in 2022.