T.J. Hockenson Is Having a Ball

Week 16 vs
Nov 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) celebrates his touchdown against the New England Patriots during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Minnesota Vikings acquired tight end T.J. Hockenson from the Detroit Lions to start November, and it’s so far, so good for, well, everybody.

With Hockenson around, the Vikings are 3-1 (.750) as the new tight end instantly acclimated to Minnesota’s offense. And we’re talking like five days. Minnesota traded for Hockenson on a Tuesday, and he helped the Vikings down the Washington Commanders in Landover on a Sunday five days later.

And while fans and pundits are offering sterling reviews of Hockenson inside Minnesota’s offense, the 25-year-old is all smiles.

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Nov 6, 2022; Landover, Maryland, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports.

Hockenson told Chris Tomasson from the Pioneer Press press about his early experience with the Vikings, “I’ve only been here for a few weeks, but it’s been awesome. I can’t say enough about what a great group of guys this is, so it’s been a blast.”

The ex-Lion scored for the first time as a member of the Vikings versus the New England Patriots on Thanksgiving, telling Tomasson about the paydirt, “It’s nice to get that out of the way. Hopefully, there’s many more.”

Since joining Minnesota, Hockenson is the NFL’s third-most targeted TE (8.5 per game), behind only Travis Kelce and Pat Freiermuth since the start of Week 9. The man is getting utilized — as he should because the Vikings gave up noteworthy draft capital via the Lions trade.

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Jul 27, 2022; Detroit, MI, USA; Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson. Mandatory Credit: Junfu Han/ Detroit Free Press-USA TODAY NETWORK.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah traded a 2nd-Round pick from 2023 and a 2024 3rd-Round pick for Hockenson, a 2023 4th-Round pick, and a conditional 2024 4th-Round pick. The Vikings traded down two rounds next year and one round in 2024 to land Hockenson. In the immediacy of the move, some fans wondered if the price was too high. Those concerns could still be vindicated, but the early returns suggest Hockenson was worth it.

Indeed, Hockenson has registered 192 receiving yards on 26 catches for 1 touchdown in 4 games. His per-game statline spread over a full regular season is what fans have desired from a tight end since the departure of Kyle Rudolph’s slowdown in 2019.

At age 25 — and probably a commitment for the long-term because of the trade capital used in the trade — Hockenson isn’t going anywhere. And he sounds rather happy about it.

Hockenson’s Vikings take on the New York Jets at U.S. Bank Stadium in Week 13.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).