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Austin Hooper's rookie year impact will likely be in the red zone

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The rookie Falcons tight end has the opportunity to make a splash even if he's not the full-time starter.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Austin Hooper is almost certainly going to start for the Falcons at some point in the near future, but I don't expect that to happen in 2016 with Jacob Tamme in the picture, even if Hooper offers a more well-rounded skillset than the veteran. I do, however, expect him to be a red zone asset.

So does Vaughn McClure at ESPN:

The Falcons had their share of red zone woes last season, including a slew of turnovers. Though they possess arguably the most dangerous receiving threat in the league in Julio Jones, the Falcons didn’t take full advantage of their red zone opportunities. They could have been even better than their 54.7 percent red zone conversion rate, which ranked 17th in the league. The Falcons were fifth in 2014 at 60 percent.

In steps Hooper, who caught six touchdown passes last season in a Stanford offense dominated by Heisman Trophy candidate Christian McCaffrey. Three of those touchdowns were in the red zone, and one them was a 42-yard, catch-and-run down the middle at Oregon State.

Hooper's size, speed, and ability to create separation matter a great deal, and they're especially welcome when you look at the team's tight end production inside the 20 a year ago. Tamme was productive in the open field but caught just one touchdown pass, while Levine Toilolo has never been able to use his imposing height effectively in the red zone, with just four touchdowns in three seasons in Atlanta. Hooper is simply faster and more dynamic than either player, and that should (eventually, anyways) translate to more red zone production.

That's good news for the offense as a whole, because Mohamed Sanu isn't a big scoring option and the Falcons didn't really add anyone else who looms as a huge threat when the Falcons get close to the end zone. I expect Hooper to be one of the team's top three scorers in the passing game this year.

How about you?