Where Hendon Hooker Ranks in NFL Draft Projections

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    As the college football season winds to a close, the NFL Draft conversations only begin to ramp up. However, for the Tennessee Volunteers, there is still a big decision to be announced in regards to Vols’ quarterback Hendon Hooker.

    After spending one year at Tennessee in 2021, Hooker does still have the option to stay in Knoxville. Although Hooker is a senior, his final year at Tennessee in 2022 would be represented as a super senior season due to the pandemic in 2020.

    As Hooker decides what he will do in the next season, NFL Draft scouts have kept an eye on the Tennessee quarterback. This means that Hooker’s name has been popping up on a few NFL Draft big boards recently.

    On Thursday, The Athletic’s Dane Brugler released a version of his own big board that is split up by position.

    According to Brugler, Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker ranks as the 12th overall quarterback in the class. Additionally, Hooker is the third-highest ranked quarterback from the SEC behind Ole Miss’ Matt Corral at the top spot and Kentucky’s Will Levis at the seventh spot.

    Sports Illustrated has also done a similar exercise. In SI’s quarterback big board rankings that were published on Dec. 4, Hooker lists as the 15th overall quarterback in the class.

    Tennessee Kentucky Football

    Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker. Photo by Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics.

    In his first year at Tennessee under head coach Josh Heupel, Hooker was magnificent in leading a dynamic scoring offense. In total, Hooker threw for 2,567 yards and 26 touchdowns. After completing 180 passes on 261 attempts, Hooker had about a 69 percent completion percentage in his first year with the big orange. However, it was the use of his legs that really took this offense to a new level and kept defenses on their toes. Hooker ran for 561 yards and even added in five touchdown scores on the ground.

    Even after looking at these numbers though, it shows one thing in specific. The connection between Heupel’s offense and Hooker’s quarterback play went hand in hand this year. Not to mention, against one of the toughest schedules in the country, their connection and efficiency grew over the course of the year.

    Hendon Hooker was not pinned as the starting quarterback to begin the year and had to go through fall camp competing against three other quarterbacks. If Hooker were to come back to Tennessee, with a full off-season of starter preparation, with the coaching staff able to build upon his work in 2021, the possibilities are through the roof regarding next year’s offense.

    Hooker could certainly declare for the draft this year but would have to work his way up the depth chart as likely a lower-round draft pick. That’s not to say that he couldn’t make those moves, though. In fact, Hooker fought and climbed his way up the depth chart at Tennessee in his first year. But the fact remains – with another season under Heupel and his staff, combined with the off-season preparation and improvement that would be expected to come, Hooker’s ceiling could be significantly higher in a year from now.

    Ric Butler is a Knoxville based sports media personality who has covered University of Tennessee athletics since 2017. Most recently, he served as the lead writer for the website of a local radio station. Ric also helped create and host a daily radio show called “The Blitz." Ric’s passion for sports, smooth vocal, and infectious personality have made him popular with both his peers and Vol Nation. Originally from Dallas, Ric didn’t grow up riding horses to school. But he did dream of the big city lights. When not chasing down the latest Tennessee story, Ric can be found watching the WWE, often attempting their moves in an embarrassing fashion.