The Falcons have been getting a lot more love than usual this offseason, even if they’re sometimes snubbed from lists like biggest steal in the draft and so forth. That continues today, with Pro Football Focus selecting Austin Hooper as an honorable mention for the best tight end under 25.
Hooper had a successful rookie season, reeling in 19 catches for 271 yards and three touchdowns in the regular season, and he made his presence felt in the postseason, as well. He’ll head into 2017 in a bit of a timeshare with Levine Toilolo, but he should be the primary receiving tight end, and new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian likes his receiving tight ends a great deal. It doesn’t hurt that Hooper showed signs of being a capable blocker in year one, which could eventually help him to push Toilolo to a true #2 role. I’m incredibly bullish on his long-term potential, and he’s worthy of any recognition that gets thrown his way.
PFF’s top choice was Hunter Henry, who was legitimately impressive as a rookie for the San Diego Chargers. I can’t quibble with that too much, but I do think Hooper’s going to turn heads this season, and I think he’s got a legitimate shot at being the team’s fourth-leading receiver. When your other weapons are Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Taylor Gabriel, Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman, that’s still impressive.