Our series rolls on with one major question for every position. Today, we tackle tight end, but not literally. We’re too out of shape for that.
What is Austin Hooper?
On one hand, the answer to that question is evident. Hooper is a dude, a California product with all the excellent hair that would imply, and a human male who plays football at the highest level. He is an Austin Hooper.
But the real crux of the question is what kind of tight end he is. Last year, Hooper finished in the middle of the pack among starting tight ends in terms of production, with some epic highs (that big Week 1 performance against the Bears, a handful of acrobatic catches) and some genuine lows (mostly boneheaded drops). It was a solid season for the second-year player, but whether you were looking for ammo to support your argument that he’s potentially great or just sort of meh, you got it in 2017.
So the big question for 2018 is what he’ll become in this pivotal third season. With Calvin Ridley in the fold, the Falcons’ passing attack should be improved, and Hooper probably isn’t in line to get many more targets than he did a year ago. It’s a question of whether he can do more with them, and his talent suggests that he certainly can. If not, the Falcons may give Eric Saubert some more run, but I feel pretty confident in saying that this year will be a fruitful one for Hooper. That has everything to do with the blend of size, speed, and (generally) quality hands he’s displayed in fits and starts, and the fact that he’s only 23 years old. He could have ten quality years ahead of him if he figures everything out.
What say you?