Hendon Hooker

Prospect Rollout: Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker Scouting Report

An unfortunate injury recently derailed Hendon Hooker’s season. A potential Heisman candidate before tearing his ACL, he finishes with 3,135 passing yards and 27 touchdowns with just two interceptions. A dual threat, he also had 430 yards and five scores on the ground.

After three seasons at Virginia Tech, Hooker has spent the last two with the Tennessee Volunteers. With five seasons of collegiate football under his belt, he is on the older end of the spectrum for an NFL Draft prospect, as he will be 25 at the start of his rookie season. Despite this, he was still being mocked in the first round by many pundits. Here is a detailed look at his skill set.

What Hendon Hooker Does Well 

Hooker, an experienced veteran passer, shows tremendous poise first and foremost. In a matchup against national superpower Alabama, he routinely rallied his team en route to a win. This poise shows up when he faces pressure in the pocket as well. Not fazed by a collapsing pocket, he easily delivers the ball regardless of the chaos around him.

He’s able to do this so easily with a skill set that’s defined by mechanics that are easily repeatable and efficient. That includes his quick release along with his footwork. In addition to this, he throws an easily catchable ball. Hooker throws it with good touch despite having the ability to throw with good velocity.

Hooker is also a dangerous athlete. At any point, he can make a team pay with his legs. While he is not an elite runner in the mold of Lamar Jackson or Justin Fields, he’s more than capable of engineering an offense where he is a major part of the running game.

Where Hendon Hooker Struggles

Hooker’s deep ball has been the cornerstone of his game at the college level. His downfield accuracy, on the other hand, is erratic, frequently missing long or just out of bounds. His ball placement in all areas of the field is questionable as well. Looking at his film, he struggles to put the ball in a spot where his receivers can make plays after the catch.

Furthermore, he is late to trigger on inbreaking routes. A player who wants to “see it open” rather than throw the ball with anticipation will get into trouble in the NFL when the game speeds up.

Unfortunately, many of the reasons he could fall into the draft are out of his control. The biggest of these will be the ACL tear he suffered late in the season against South Carolina. This will cause him to miss his first NFL offseason, for sure. Regrettably, it will likely cost him at least a month of his rookie season. His age will also be a factor, as he will be 25 years old by the time he starts his rookie season.

Evaluation 

One of the nation’s most prolific passers during his senior season, Hooker led the Tennessee Volunteers to one of their best seasons in recent memory. With big wins over Alabama and LSU, he immediately thrust himself into the national spotlight. As a talented passer who is not afraid to take chances, he is certainly worthy of being selected in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Due to a variety of factors, I have given Hooker a third-round grade. While he shows flashes of high-end arm talent and exciting downfield throws, his overall accuracy and ball placement create cause for concern. In addition to this, his age will create other issues as well. Simply put, he is what he is at this point from a physical standpoint and, due to the simplicity of his college offense, is unlikely to improve mentally. At the very least, it will take time. The question will be whether an NFL team is willing to commit the necessary time to help raise his level of play.

Raiders Scouting Report: Alabama EDGE Will Anderson Jr.

*Top Photo: Wade Payne/Associated Press

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