TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA - OCTOBER 23: Hendon Hooker #5 of the Tennessee Volunteers tries to ge away from Christian Harris #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant Denny Stadium on October 23, 2021 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (Photo by Marvin Gentry/Getty Images )
TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA - OCTOBER 23: Hendon Hooker #5 of the Tennessee Volunteers tries to ge away from Christian Harris #8 of the Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant Denny Stadium on October 23, 2021 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (Photo by Marvin Gentry/Getty Images )

Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker Just Outside Of First-Round

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Hendon Hooker has one of the most desirable traits for his position.

Hooker is efficient.

In fact, that is the one word I would use to describe this quarterback (QB) if I were sitting in an NFL war-room.

Hooker showed in 2021 he can drive the ball downfield (9.8 yard avg.), and throw touchdowns (31) while making minimum mistakes (3 INT).

Those are the type of numbers that get noticed by teams.

Ball placement is king

Before anyone accuses me of being a “stats scout,” let me drill down further into Hooker’s game film to unpack something even more revealing.

Hooker showed excellent ball placement at all three route levels last season (short, intermediate and deep) and there is just no substitute for this.

Again, ball placement is different than completion percentage. Great ball placement means a QB is putting the ball right where it needs to be downfield, which gives the receivers the best chance to pick up additional yardage after the catch.

Hooker has a deep game

Having a good deep game on top of being efficient is like getting ice cream with a cherry on top, and Hooker can launch it.

Against Alabama, he dropped back and launched a beauty down the right sideline, hitting the receiver in stride.

Hooker is developing a reputation for having a nice long ball, and that too is a premium in the NFL.

Hooker looks like an ideal No. 2 at the next level

Secrets of an NFL Scout by Tony Razzano is the book that taught me how to scout when I was 17, and Razzano said “There are no 10’s,” meaning none of these prospects are perfect.

Why isn’t Hooker a first-round prospect?

There are certain things a QB can get away with in college that will get him exposed in the NFL.

Hooker will always be one of these passers who looks the part, and gets your hopes up that maybe he can be a starter in the pros, but he will always remind you why he is not.

However, Hooker has enough positives that he looks like an ideal backup.

Chicago would be a good landing spot for Hooker. He would give the Bears one of the best one-two punches in the league. Plus, he has a similar style to starting QB Justin Fields, which would give the Bears’ offense continuity in the event Fields ever misses any playing time.

Currently, Chicago doesn’t have a viable No. 2.

Hendon Hooker 6-foot-4, 218 pounds

Daniel Kelly Grade: Second Round – Early Fall 2022 Report

First Round Mock Big Board: QB6

Projected by 1.4% of the NFL Draft Community to be a first-round pick as of September 4, 2022 (nflmockdraftdatabase.com)

2021 game film reviewed: South Carolina, Ole Miss and Alabama (click to watch games viewed to form this evaluation).

Level of competition: High

2021 stats: 206/302 (68.2%) 2,945 yards (9.8 avg.), 31 TD, 3 INT.

NFL comparable: Tyrod Taylor

2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report:

Athletic dual-threat with a good arm and ball placement, but struggles holding the ball too long, can look hesitant and lacks pocket awareness. Operates out of the gun and showed good ball handling skills and play-action fake. Can slide around, evade and get out of trouble if he sees it coming. So focused downfield he lacks a natural feel for the pass rush (2021: 36 sacks). Doesn’t throw it away under pressure. Tendency to hold the ball too long with this big wind up, compact and mechanical looking delivery he is dependent on for his accuracy. Looks like a wind up toy. Stares down the receiver when he is going through this process. Lacks touch without this delivery mechanism. Once he finally unloads, drives the ball well. Can snap it off effortlessly and fit it into tight throwing windows. Excellent ball placement at all three route levels (short, intermediate and deep). Puts receivers in position to pick up additional yardage. Works the perimeters effectively (in’s and out’s), and throws a nice slant and skinny post. Averaged 3.7 yards rushing in 2021. Keeps fighting back and does not give up.

What to watch for during the 2022 college football season:

  1. What does his delivery look like?
  2. Does he look hesitant to pull the trigger at times?
  3. Does he still stare down receivers?
  4. Does he look as oblivious to the pass rush?

Despite the negatives, I go back to his efficiency, athleticism, ball handling skills and his deep ball. These are attributes that just cannot be taught.

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL Scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He currently writes for Sports Illustrated New York Jets and he is the Editor-in-Chief for First Round Mock. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @firstroundmock

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