Report: Saints have met ‘extensively’ with Tennessee QB prospect Hendon Hooker

The New Orleans Saints are one of several teams that have met ‘extensively’ with Tennessee Volunteers quarterback prospect Hendon Hooker, per the Draft Network’s Ryan Fowler. Projected to be a second- or third-round pick in the 2023 NFL draft, Hooker set the college football world on fire last season by following up his breakout 2021 passing line (31 touchdown passes against 3 interceptions, completing 68% of his throws) with even greater efficiency in 2022 (27 touchdown passes and 2 interceptions with a 69.6% completion rate). He averaged 9.7 and 9.5 yards per pass attempt in each year as the Vols’ starter, adding 1,046 rushing yards and 10 touchdown runs along the way.

But a mid-November knee injury cut his Heisman Trophy campaign short, and now Hooker is continuing to recover while expecting to participate in training camp come July. Fowler adds that the Las Vegas Raiders, Carolina Panthers, New York Giants, and Dallas Cowboys are among the teams to have spent the most time with Hooker thus far.

It’s easy to see why. He’s a fascinating prospect with a live arm, consistent accuracy, and ample experience reading every defense college teams could throw at him. But between his injury, his age (he turned 25 in January), and the limitations of the offense he played in, there are a lot of questions about his prospects in the NFL. He won’t enjoy the same wide-open spacing that he worked with at Tennessee. Those possible downsides are drawing teams’ attention just as strongly as the upsides in his scouting report.

The Saints have a history of bringing former Vols to the NFL; their wide receivers coach Kodi Burns held the same position on Tennessee’s staff before being hired away last year, and they’ve drafted players like Alvin Kamara and Alontae Taylor out of Rocky Top while signing multiple undrafted free agents including Shy Tuttle, Marquez Callaway, and Ethan Wolf. Their ties to that program are well-established.

Eventually, every team will have met with virtually every prospect between contact at college all-star games, the annual NFL scouting combine, campus visits, pro day workouts, and private meetings at the team facility. So we shouldn’t make too much of this. Still, Hooker has a lot of fans, and the uncertainty at quarterback has Saints fans in particular connecting dots whenever they’re given the opportunity.

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Story originally appeared on Saints Wire