Hawkeyes in the NFL Week 1: T.J. Hockenson Sets Record

September 10, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

Detroit surprised (and upset) some of its fans by selecting Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson with the eighth overall pick of April’s NFL Draft. He showed them Sunday what the Hawkeye faithful already knew – um, he’s good, really good.

The Chariton (IA) High product established a new mark for rookies at his position in a debut. He caught six passes for 131 yards, the most by a newcomer since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. He also delivered a 23-yard touchdown grab.

Not bad for a guy booed at the team’s own draft party.

In fairness to the Lions’ fans, the franchise has selected tight ends (Eric Ebron, Branden Pettigrew) early that have fallen short of expectations. Hockenson changed that narrative during Sunday’s 27-27 tie with the Cardinals in Arizona.

Hockenson’s early fourth-quarter scoring catch gave his team a 24-6 lead. It couldn’t hang on, though, and that’s what he was focused on at the game’s conclusion.

“We came up short. That’s all I can really say. It was nice to go out there and get my first game under the belt, but it’s tough to look at the result,” he told MLive.com after the game.

Hockenson’s first professional catch in a regular-season contest, a 28-yarder, came on the Lions’ second series. He would add another grab of 32 yards before halftime. He proved he can provide big plays.

“I had been seeing it all training camp,” Detroit receiver Kenny Golladay told MLive.com. “I wasn’t surprised at all.”

Here’s a look at all of Hockenson’s catches from Week 1: LINK

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Former Hawkeye Mike Daniels played his first game as a Lion after spending seven seasons with Green Bay. He was credited with an assisted tackle.

Notes from more former Iowa players in the NFL…

-The other half of the Hawkeyes’ historic draft in which two tight ends from the same team were chosen in the first round for the first time ever, Noah Fant, debuted for Denver on Monday night. The Omaha native caught two of five targets for 29 yards in a 24-16 loss at Oakland. The Broncos handed the ball to him on a reverse to start their first offensive series, but it was stopped for a five-yard loss.

Also in that contest, linebacker Josey Jewell recorded a game-high 14 tackles (seven solo) in a losing effort. Casey Kreiter, a pro-bowler last season, handled the long-snapping duties for Denver.

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-Adrian Clayborn played on the Atlanta Falcons defensive line in a 28-12 loss at Minnesota. He was credited with an assisted tackle. Jaleel Johnson recorded a solo tackle playing on the Vikings’ defensive front.

-Linebacker Anthony Hitchens led the Kansas City Chiefs with seven tackles (five solo, .5 for loss) during a 40-26 win against Jacksonville.

-Defensive back Micah Hyde delivered two tackles (one solo) for the Bills. Buffalo came from behind the defeat the Jets, 17-16.

-Desmond King produced three tackles (two solo) in San Diego’s 30-24 overtime victory against Indianapolis. He added a tackle for loss.

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-In a 43-13 loss to Tennessee, Cleveland linebacker Christian Kirksey was credited with six tackles (five solo) and two stops for loss.

-Tight end George Kittle caught a game-high eight passes for 54 yards in San Francisco’s 31-17 victory at Tampa Bay. The pro-bowler was targeted 10 times.

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