“The way that we run our offense, the wide splits, those are all grown-man throws. I’m not throwing any five-yard outs. I’m throwing big-boy balls.”Hendon Hooker
Besides Stetson Bennett, Hooker is the oldest quarterback (QB) in the draft. At 25 years old, in a perfect world he would not have as much time to develop and contribute as the 21 year old Bryce Young would.
Additionally, Hooker is still recovering from a ACL injury in November.
He is a run first pass second type of quarterback. The argument being once he is out of the pocket, he tends to make the play with his feet opposed to looking down the field for the bigger play.
Lastly, the argument is not as much a Hooker issue as it is a Tennessee Volunteer o ffensive issue. Hooker is criticized for being in a system that is meant to get the ball out of the quarterbacks hands quickly. It does not require multiple read progressions and emphasizes the skill set of the receivers to get open in situational play calls.
What Makes Him a Steal?
Although he might be older than wanted out of a QB prospect, that also means he has experience under his belt. Hooker has 37 total starts over his career, which is more than any other QB list ahead of him on Pro Football Focus (PFF) draft board. With the age expectancy of the QB increasing 25 is still young in todays game.
Hooker, arguably, has the best deep ball in this years draft class. While also being the most well rounded passer. Last year only trailing Fresno State QB Jake Haener in completion percentage last year. All while leading this draft class in average depth per target. Not only is he completing a high percentage of his passes but also looking behind the linebackers to pick up a first down or big play.
In a league where we see more and more scrambling quarterbacks prevail, Hooker would only be an addition in this area. The criticism that he puts his head down when he leaves the pocket instead of looking down the field is warranted. Yet, it is also something that can be adjusted. He has never been a heavy runner like a Jalen Hurts or Justin Fields coming out of college. He has the ability to beat individuals with his feet, but his arm is his first weapon.
Hendon Hooker is currently projected for the third round. He could potentially be the next Russell Wilson, coincidently the Seahawks would be a suitable destination for Hookers talents. Some other good suitors would be the Los Angeles Rams, Washington Commanders, and Minnesota Vikings. Give Hooker some time to recover and learn he can become the next franchise QB.