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Projecting the Falcons 2016 offense: Austin Hooper

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What might the rookie tight end add to the Falcons offense in his first year?

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

With only Jacob Tamme and Levine Toilolo playing tight end for the Falcons in 2015, it was clear that the team needed to find another long-term option for the 2016 season. By grabbing Austin Hooper with their 3rd round pick, the Falcons filled a need and also got a player with tremendous potential for the future. The fact that Hooper played in a pro-style offense in college should help his transition to the pros, but fans should temper expectations for year one regardless.

College

Austin Hooper proved to be a valuable option in the passing game at Stanford. His athleticism and size made him a great red zone option, while his body control and good hands brought it to fruition. Here's how Hooper did in the last two years at Stanford.

Year Receptions Yards Avg TDs
2014 40 499 12.5 2
2015 34 438 12.9 6


Other NFL TE rookie seasons

Knowing that the NFL is a far different animal from the college game, I thought it may be easier to see how other tight ends have faired in recent years during their rookie seasons. I'm feeling pretty optimistic about Hooper, so I thought it'd be interesting to look at 3 of the better tight ends in the league, while also avoiding the Gronkowski comparison.

Player Year Games Receptions Yards Avg TDs
Travis Kelce 2014 16 67 862 12.9 5
Jimmy Graham 2010 15 31 356 11.5 5
Jordan Reed 2013 9 45 499 11.1 3

Projection

The last thing I want to do is heap out-of-whack expectations on a rookie. Given the presence of Jacob Tamme, I don't think Hooper will have a season like Kelce, but the seasons that Reed and Graham had make my projection seem somewhat reasonable. I do think Hooper will contribute as a red zone option immediately, with his role expanding far more in 2017 and beyond.

Year Games Receptions Yards Avg TDs
2016 16 32 384 12.0 2

What do you think of this projection for Hooper in his rookie year?