Durability is a huge plus for any NFL draft prospect, and Texas A&M offensive lineman Jared Hocker has been one of the nation’s best in that department. Having started every game over the past two seasons, Hocker is one of the most reliable blockers in this year’s draft.
Hocker recently spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about his impressive career with the Aggies, what positions he sees himself playing in the NFL, and what kind of player he’ll be at the next level.
JM: You made more than 30 career starts at Texas A&M. You’ve been so incredibly consistent and dependable throughout your time as an Aggie. How do you look back on your time there?
JH: I had a great time there. I was blessed to even get a chance to attend a school like Texas A&M. To have played there for the past four years, it was the ultimate experience for me. I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything in the world. I made a lot of friends and I had a great time doing it.
JM: When I put the tape on, the first thing that jumps out at me is your ability to take control of a rep with your powerful lower half. Your lower body is always in sync. How did you work on that?
JH: It comes naturally to me for the most part. We take our strength training very seriously at Texas A&M. We always made sure that I was in great shape. We hit the squats in the weight room pretty hard (laughs). It starts there. I took the time to really work on my technique. I always want to play the game to the best of my ability.
JM: Tell me about the mentality it takes to become a good quality offensive lineman.
JH: First and foremost, you have to be protective. You gotta have a protective nature about you. You have to protect your quarterback. You have to be somewhat of an aggressive person and player. It definitely takes some mental capabilities in order to play this position at a high level.
There’s a lot that comes at you while playing this position. It can be a strenuous job if you’re not built for it. A lot of people can’t handle it. You have to be able and willing to put your hand in the dirt and throw somebody around the line of scrimmage. That’s the job. You have to keep the quarterback safe and away from the pass rush.
When it comes to run blocking, you have to get down and dirty in order to win that rep. You have to drive them off the ball and open up a lane for your running back to run through.
JM: That’s a terrific answer. What can you tell me about the scheme you played in at Texas A&M? What did your coaches ask of you within the structure of their offense?
JH: My first year at A&M, I was coached by Kevin Sumlin. We ran more of a spread offense under him and his staff. When coach Jimbo Fisher came in, we switched to more of a pro-style offense. We ran a lot of RPOs. We did a lot of things in the run game. We definitely run the ball a bit more under coach Fisher than we did under coach Sumlin.
Our success in the run game opened up some things in the passing game for us, especially in 2020. I feel like we ran the ball quite well this past season. It really helped us on offense, especially in the passing game.
JM: You’ve been exposed to several different schemes and concepts. You’ve played a lot of right guard at Texas A&M but you’re a versatile guy. Where do you see yourself playing at the next level?
JH: I see myself playing right guard or left guard. I played some left guard during my sophomore season here. I feel pretty confident as a guard no matter which side I’m playing on.
I’ve been working on my ability to play the center position as well. That’s how I’ve been training up here in California throughout this predraft process. I’ve had guys like former NFL player Jesse Sapolu helping me with that. That’s something I want to be able to do at the next level.
JM: Having Jesse Sapolu in your corner is a great resource to have. You can never be too versatile. We’ve reached the virtual process now where you’re meeting with teams via Zoom and whatnot. How’s that process going for you?
JH: I’m keeping the list of teams private at this time but I’ve met with about 10 teams so far [editor’s note: the interview was completed on 3/4]. We’re talking football. It’s been great. It’s a new experience for me. With the combine being changed to a medical event, the process is different. I’m just blessed to have this opportunity. I’m really enjoying the process so far.
JM: That’s great to hear. I’ve really appreciated your time today, Jared. In closing, why should an NFL team use one of their draft picks on Jared Hocker?
JH: A team should pick me because I’m a hardworking guy that expects to come in and immediately compete for a starting job. It’s always been my dream to play in the NFL and I’m going to give it my all. I’m going to do what needs to be done.