Redskins free agency head-to-head: Austin Hooper vs. Hunter Henry
Team: Atlanta Falcons
Age: 26 in November
Draft Pedigree: Round 3, 81st overall in 2016 NFL Draft
2019 Production: 13 games, 75 catches, 787 yards, six touchdowns
Athletic Profile: 6-foot-4, 254 pounds, 79.4-inch wingspan, 4.72 40-yard dash, 33-inch vertical, 4.32 short shuttle, 7.00 three-cone, 9-foot-9 broad jump, 19 bench press reps
Austin Hooper Scouting Report
Austin Hooper isn’t the best tight end in the NFL. But he certainly isn’t too far from it. While Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Zach Ertz probably slot in ahead of Hooper in league-wide tight end rankings, there’s a case to be made for Hooper as the best of the Tier 2 options at the position.
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Hooper has improved in each of his four seasons since entering the league as a third-round pick out of Stanford. And in his final year with the Falcons, he enjoyed his best season to date, serving as a high-volume pass catching option and a middle-of-the-field threat for the squad. He was arguably their most consistent weapon and he simply finds ways to get open.
When watching Hooper, it’s clear that he knows how to find space in the middle of the defense. He was frequently targeted by Matt Ryan in that area and Hooper has a knack for settling into vacated zones to give his quarterback easy pitch-and-catch options between the secondary and linebackers. He moves fluidly, is a solid route-runner, and demonstrates very good after the catch ability (4.3 YAC per reception in 2019, per Pro Football Focus).
In addition to these skills, Hooper can win contested catches thanks to his solid frame and he will fight for yards after contact as well. And as a blocker, he held up well for the Falcons and is continuing to grow in that area. That was one of his weaker points coming into the league, but he has definitely shown the ability to succeed in that facet of the game.
There’s not much that Hooper doesn’t do well. Sure, he could run routes a bit better. And if he can generate more power as a blocker, that wouldn’t hurt either. But considering that he won’t turn 26 until November, that gives him more time to improve ahead of his prime. And it’s exciting to wonder what his true ceiling could be.