Vikings TE Gets ‘Madden’ Kudos

Connor Dodson (right), 14, and Aaden Brady, 13, play Madden video games as fans gather at the Super Bowl LVII Experience at the Phoenix Convention Center on Feb. 11, 2023. © Joe Rondone/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Minnesota Vikings training camp begins in three days, but before that, the EA Sports game Madden is unveiling player ratings, an annual tradition signaling the NFL season is afoot.

To start the week, Vikings wideout Justin Jefferson fetched the best score possible in the video game with a 99, while Harrison Smith was nominated as the NFL’s seventh-best safety.

Vikings TE Gets ‘Madden’ Kudos

And on Thursday, tight end T.J. Hockenson received his kudos, too, firing up a 90 overall score from Madden — also known as the fourth-best rating in this year’s edition of the game among TEs.

Vikings TE Gets
Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) and guard Ezra Cleveland (72) greet fans after the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports.

Hockenson was only outranked by the fantasy football ‘Big Three’ — Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs), George Kittle (San Francisco 49ers), and Mark Andrews (Baltimore Ravens).

Here’s the full Madden TE pecking order for 2023:

  1. Travis Kelce (KC) 99
  2. George Kittle (SF) 96
  3. Mark Andrews (BAL) 95
  4. T.J. Hockenson (MIN) 90
  5. Dallas Goedert (PHI) 89
  6. Kyle Pitts (ATL) 87
  7. Darren Waller (NYG) 87
  8. Pat Freiermuth (PIT) 85
  9. David Njoku (CLE) 84
  10. Evan Engram (NYG) 84
Hockenson Chatter
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) reacts after a play against the New York Giants during the second quarter of a wild card game at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings traded a 2nd-Round pick from 2023 and a 2024 3rd-Round pick to the Detroit Lions for tight end T.J. Hockenson, a 2023 4th-Round pick, and a conditional 2024 4th-Round pick last November. The move utterly revamped the Vikings 2022 offense, adding a target for quarterback Kirk Cousins in the middle of the field. Opposing defensive coordinators increasingly focused on Hockenson’s Offensive Player of the Year teammate, Justin Jefferson, so Hockenson felt like a godsend.

Here are a couple of statistics to illustrate Hockenson’s immediate impact on the Vikings:

Most Receiving Yards,
in First 10 Games w/Vikings:

Justin Jefferson (848)
Sammy White (742)
John Gilliam (722)
Randy Moss (698)
Bernard Berrian (667)
Stefon Diggs (638)
Jermaine Wiggins (538)
T.J. Hockenson (519)

5 Players Entering
Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) makes a catch while New York Jets linebacker Kwon Alexander (9) defends during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Most Receptions by a TE,
First 10 Games with a Franchise,
Since 1970

T.J. Hockenson, MIN (60)
Kellen Winslow, CLE (56)
Keith Jackson, PHI (54)
Tony Gonzalez, KC (52)
Jermaine Wiggins, MIN (51)

Hockenson Stuff
Dec 11, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) and Detroit Lions wide receiver Josh Reynolds (8) talk for a minute after the game at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

Hockenson is also eligible for a contract extension, which could hit any day. At Vikings organized team activities in May, Hockenson spoke to reporters about his future. “That’s not really anything I’m focused on. I mean, it is what it is. I think that’s no secret that that’s coming up, but that’s not a focus that I’m worried about. I’m just out here playing football, having fun with the guys, really enjoying the city of Minneapolis, and trying to get around these fans,” Hockenson said.

“This is a place obviously I want to be, and everything needs to work out. I hope to be here for a long time, but on the same hand, it is a business, and there’s a side to that. Again, I don’t look at that, but it’s great to be here right now,” he concluded.

And when that deal is finalized, the Vikings will employ Madden’s fourth-best tight end for the next four to six years.

Hockenson turned 26 earlier this month.

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 Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by