Fellow NFL players 'salute' Hockenson: 'He’s a freak'

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Coming off a strong second season and his first Pro Bowl nod, T.J. Hockenson is on the precipice of NFL stardom. His peers agree, voting Hockenson No. 93 among the top 100 players in the game.

"A lot of people should know about him, because he plays the game the you’re supposed to play," said Buccaneers standout LB Devin White, who was drafted three picks before Hockenson went eighth overall to the Lions in 2019. "He can do it all. Tight ends are supposed to get in there and block. He likes to get dirty, too. He’s very physical."

Hockenson doubled his numbers across the board last season, finishing third among tight ends in receiving yards behind All-Pro Travis Kelce and fellow Pro Bowler Darren Waller. And Waller thinks Hockenson's rise is just beginning.

"A young dude that’s killing it right now," Waller said. "That Iowa, it's just a factory of tight ends, man. Detroit doesn't get a lot of love just for the season they had last year as a team, but just looking closer at him, he makes a lot of plays. He’s a guy that was consistent, definitely earned his Pro Bowl bid last year. A guy that I think is just going to keep getting better and better."

The Buccaneers got a live look at Hockenson in Week 16 when the eventual Super Bowl champs came to Detroit. While they held Hockenson in check, White and fellow LB Lavonte David still came away impressed.

"Think of how big of a threat he was," David said. "He was a guy who you had to circle, a guy who had a lot of targets (last) year. He was a big part of their offense."

"I really respect his game because he’s putting in a lot of work on the field," said White. "He’s getting what he deserves and I salute him."

Hockenson isn't quite a household name across the NFL, but this could well be the year he changes that. Take it from Broncos OL Garrett Bolles.

"I don’t know too much about him," Bolles said. "All I know about him is he’s a freak. He plays for the Lions, right?"

Hockenson is the only member of the Lions to crack the NFL Top 100 through the first 60 players. The final 40 will be revealed this week.