Hendon Hooker: A Perfect Landing Spot With the Detroit Lions

Yardbarker

When quarterback Hendon Hooker was selected in the third round of the 2023 draft by the Detroit Lions, he couldn’t have landed in a better spot.

Hendon Hooker: A Perfect Landing Spot With The Detroit Lions

Hooker – The Volunteer Years

During his career at Tennessee, Hooker smashed numerous records, including the school’s single-season touchdown record in his first year with 31 and only three interceptions. He also had nine rushing touchdowns.

In Hooker’s senior year, the Vols were off to an excellent 8-0 start and were number one in the conference. Ranked ninth nationally in total offense (and first in the SEC) with an average of 324.1 yards per game, Hooker was one 0f the early favorites for the 2022 Heisman Trophy award. But a week nine loss to Georgia, followed by a devasting ACL injury two weeks later in a game against South Carolina, ended Hooker’s season.  

During his two years in Tennessee, Hooker earned 6,080 career passing yards with 58 touchdowns and achieved a career completion rate of 68.8 percent. Hooker watched helplessly as the Vols tumbled from their number-one ranking, and he fell out of Heisman contention. Although he got 17 first-place votes, Hooker failed to make the final four. It was a disappointing end to such a stellar beginning. 

The 2023 NFL Draft

Although he was still recovering from his injury, Hooker declared for the April 2023 draft. The Carolina Panthers selected  Bryce Young, and the Houston Texans chose C.J. Stroud with the first and second picks of the draft. University of Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson was selected next by the Indianapolis Colts with the fourth pick.  

It had to hurt when the Tennessee Titans passed over their hometown hero to select Will Levis with the 33rd pick in the second round. By comparison with Hooker, Levis only averaged 200.9 yards per game with eight touchdowns and four interceptions. By the time the second round ended, Hooker was beginning to wonder just how much farther he would fall before a team drafted him.   

The Best Call

As it turned out, Hooker would be the next quarterback chosen. With the 68th pick in the third round, the Detroit Lions anointed Hooker as their future quarterback-in-waiting. It could not have been a more fortunate opportunity for the talented rookie. He was joining a young team that had just begun to flourish under new team management and a terrific coaching staff. Jared Goff is firmly established as the Lions’ starting quarterback and playing the best football of his career. Backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld was on hand to fill in as needed for Goff, so Hooker could continue his rehabilitation without feeling the pressure of an immediate timeline.

Hooker spent the majority of the 2023 season knowing he wouldn’t play. It was an ideal scenario for a rookie with his skills to be able to sit back, heal, and get ready to play the following year. In the meantime, he could be patient, study, and absorb everything he could. 

Time To Prove Himself

But after a 2023 season that saw the Lions come within one game of the Super Bowl, Hooker suddenly finds himself on the clock. Now, he’s expected to prove himself at training camp.

The Lions have been very patient and provided Hooker time to acclimate himself. He took reps and worked on his delivery and accuracy with offensive coordinator Ben Johnson and quarterback coach Mark Brunell. He’s been able to study Amon-Ra St. Brown, not only one of the NFL’s best receivers but one of the hardest-working athletes on the team. Reports from the OTA’s and mandatory minicamp indicate he is progressing nicely. The coaching staff and other players have complimented his work ethic and attitude.

This is a team that is primed for an NFL Championship. The fans and virtually the entire city are ravenously hungry for this team to bring home the Lombardi Trophy to Detroit. Hooker is a member of this team and part of the legacy that goes along with it. Now, it’s his turn to step up and be ready.  If he’s called upon to lead the offense, will he be able to make adjustments quickly and progress through the reads? He’s fought back from a season-ending injury and displayed tenacity, courage, and patience. Those character traits could help prepare him for an NFL Championship run. Only time will tell if number 12 is ready for the big time.  

Articles You May Like

Roster preview: Frank Ragnow is the best center in the NFL
Video: Breaking down PFF’s LB rankings
Young Lions pass-catcher already considered top-five at his position
Report: Former Lions CB Cameron Sutton receives big suspension
Detroit Lions Free Agency and Detroit Lions News & Rumors Livestream (July 9, 2024)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *