Countdown – 15 Most Indispensable Hawkeyes for 2018 – No. 6

August 16, 2018

Written by Rob Howe

IOWA CITY, Iowa – I started this exercise last year in July. As you can see, this summer has been a little busier.

Beginning today, we’ll count down the 15 most indispensable Hawkeyes for 2018. These are the players I believe the team can least afford to lose by way of injury, suspension, alien abduction or some other unforeseen reason.

I use several factors in generating this list. It starts with a given player’s ability. From there, experience, depth at a position, perceived development and a general sense of the roster are considered.

I’m guessing you guys will see things differently than me, at least to some degree. That’s OK. There’s plenty we don’t know at this point.

I had Manny Rugamba on this list last year and not Josh Jackson. That seems silly now but made sense at the time.

Let’s see if I can make a fool of myself again. I’m confident I can.

No. 15 – Alaric Jackson, Left Tackle

No. 14 – Amani Jones, Middle Linebacker

No. 13 – Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Wide Receiver

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No. 12 – A.J. Epenesa, Defensive End

No. 11 – Parker Hesse, Defensive End 

No. 10 – Toren Young, Running Back

No. 9 – Jake Gervase, Free Safety

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No. 8 Miguel Recinos

No. 7 Nick Easley, Wide Receiver

No. 6 T.J. Hockenson, Tight End

Projected Backup – Nate Wieting.

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Reason He’s Here – On most teams in the country, Hockenson would receive more attention. As good has he’s been, he remains in the shadows of running mate Noah Fant, a preseason all-American tight end.

As the second tight end last season, Hockenson still managed 24 receptions for 320 yards and three touchdowns. He showed good hands, the ability to run crisp routes and improved blocking.

With a lot of attention sure to be paid to Fant by opponents, Hockenson could see things open up for himself as happened as last year went on. The mismatches he presents could result in a big season.

Hockenson’s development at tight end has been impressive. He played more of a receiving role at Chariton (IA) High, setting state records for catches, yards and touchdowns.

Wieting is a really good backup and should see plenty of reps in three tight-end sets. He’s the best blocker among this group but isn’t a slouch receiving.

Tight end might be the strongest position on the team and Hockenson is a big reason why.

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