Coming off a 2018 season which earned Austin Hooper a Pro Bowl invite, we ask, what will his numbers look like in 2019? It’s still pretty early, but we’ll dive into what they could possibly look like this upcoming season for the young Falcons’ tight end.
Targets and Receptions
The Falcons have one of the better offenses in the NFL, there’s no denying that. The issue for Hooper is this: How often will he get the ball?
For what it’s worth, Hooper’s target share has risen in each of his three seasons. In 2016 he had 27 targets, 2017 he had 65 targets and in 2018 he had 88 targets. This number should, in theory, continue to grow. He’s not the first option for quarterback Matt Ryan, but he’s still a quality option that will be on the field for most of the Falcons offensive possessions.
I’ll list the name of tight ends who had more receptions than Austin Hooper in 2018: Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, and George Kittle. If you noticed, those are all elite-level tight ends who are typically their team’s best receiving option. Hooper is right up there with them, and with the increase in targets has (obviously) come an increase in receptions. In 2016 Hooper had 19 catches, 49 catches in 2017 and 71 catches in 2018. As long as the Falcons don’t go run heavy in 2019, there’s still room to grow here.
My prediction: 107 targets, 91 receptions
Receiving Yards and Touchdowns
Like everything else, Austin Hooper’s receiving yards have continued to increase with each season. Last year, Hooper had 660 receiving yards which equates to 41.3 yards per game. If the trend continues where his reception volume increases, his yardage will obviously as well.
One area which has remained practically constant with Hooper is his receiving touchdowns. In each of his first two seasons Hooper caught three touchdown passes and in 2018 he caught four. Personally, I think this will be a statement year for Austin Hooper, so don’t be surprised if he doubles his touchdown production from last season. The Falcons have enough targets that are hard to stop, and Hooper has always had the toolkit to succeed in the red zone.
My Prediction: 873 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns
All of the above adds to a final stat line that looks like this:
107 targets, 91 receptions, 873 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns
When you consider where the tight end position is nationally, those numbers would put the league on notice of how good Austin Hooper can be and is. The Falcons hired Dirk Koetter this offseason, but they also hired former Tampa Bay Buccaneers TE coach Ben Steele as an offensive assistant. Tampa had one of the best tight end groups in the NFL last year, with Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard combining for 11 touchdowns in 2018. With Koetter, Steele, and Mike Mularkey on board, Hooper should be primed for a great season.
What are your predictions for Austin Hooper’s 2019 season?