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ESPN Draft Expert Says Hendon Hooker’s Stock Isn’t Free Falling

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

Hendon Hooker’s award-winning season was widely expected to seamlessly transition the Greensboro, N.C. native into a spot in the NFL Draft. Hooker’s ability on the football field had him around the Top 5 in terms of quarterbacks as a likely Day 2 prospect.

However, in the midst of an incredible run late in the season, Hooker suffered an ACL tear in the penultimate game of the regular season against South Carolina. The Tennessee quarterback ran a routine speed option to the left but buckled after just a few steps.

So, despite his injury, what does Hendon Hooker’s NFL stock look like currently?

ESPN draft expert Todd McShay doesn’t believe Hooker’s stock is dropping very much – and it certainly isn’t free-falling.

“I still see Hooker as the QB4 in the class,” McShay said for ESPN. “The 6-foot-4 senior suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in November, and while the injury will certainly impact his draft stock, I don’t think we will see a severe drop.”

Hooker ended the 2022 season with 3,135 passing yards and 27 touchdown passes with just two interceptions. The Tennessee quarterback also added in 430 yards and five touchdowns on the ground while showing off his dynamic range of skills.

“Hooker was a Day 2 prospect for me even before the injury, and I still think that’s when he will get drafted — just a little bit later on Friday night than previously thought,” McShay continued on to say. “Hooker reads the field really well, has a nice smooth delivery and knows how to layer the ball to receivers to set up yards after the catch.”

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As McShay stated, the ESPN expert has Hooker as his fourth quarterback in the class after the injury. That’s pretty impressive considering Pro Football Focus had Hendon Hooker as QB5 on the Monday morning before his injury and Tennessee’s loss to South Carolina.

“Hooker has skyrocketed up draft boards with his performance this season,” PFF’s Michael Renner wrote on Nov. 14. “Once known more for his rushing ability, Hooker has made leaps and bounds as a passer since transferring from Tennessee. He’s seen his grade improve every year as a passer all the way up to 85.8 this season. His playmaking ability and downfield accuracy will draw attention, even if he is on the older side.”

So, ultimately, all of this is to say that it doesn’t look like Hooker’s stock is going to be changed a whole lot because of the injury. In the day of modern medicine, a devastating injury such as an ACL tear isn’t nearly as difficult as it used to be to come back from judging from various players across the recent sports landscape.

Judging by other sections in the ESPN article, it looks as though McShay’s quarterback board has Alabama’s Bryce Young at QB1, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud and Kentucky’s Will Levis at QB2 and QB3 (in some order), and Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker as QB4.

The 2023 NFL Draft will begin on Thursday, April 27.

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