Atlanta improved its tight end group Friday drafting Stanford's Austin Hooper No. 81 overall. Here's what you need to know about the newest Falcon:
Hooper is the latest of many Stanford tight ends to go pro. Zach Ertz, Coby Fleener and Atlanta's own Levine Toilolo are among the other Cardinals to reach the NFL. There's a reason why people in California refer to the school as Tight End U.
Stanford runs a pro-style offense that, according to Hooper, closely resembles the Falcons' system. This should help him transition to the next level and begin to grasp Kyle Shanahan's playbook.
With excellent hand-eye coordination, and impressive speed for his size and good separation ability, Hooper has grown into a valuable pass-catcher. He tallied 937 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 74 receptions at Stanford.
- In addition to being fast, Hooper possesses another trait Quinn loves: "I'm very physical," Hooper said at the combine. "I grew up playing defensive line my whole life until I came to college, so the physical side of the game of football isn't something that scares me in the slightest. I feel confident with my abilities and, hopefully, a team does, too."
Hooper's hands, which measure at 10 ⅝ inches, rank in the 93rd percentile among NFL tight ends, according to mockdraftables.com. General manager Thomas Dimitroff noted the third-rounder's hand size as an important feature.
The Falcons know they have to improve in the red zone, and Hooper, who scored eight touchdowns at Stanford, should help in that regard. Dimitroff said Friday that Hooper's work inside the 20 was a big factor in the drafting process.
With only 24 college games under his belt, Hooper is viewed as something of a project. That's to be expected when a redshirt sophomore decides to enter the draft. His ceiling is high, though, and that made him worthy of a Day 2 pick and, according to NFL Network's Mike Mayock, the No. 2 TE in this class. With Jacob Tamme signed through 2016, Hooper won't be pushed into action while he learns the ropes and fine-tunes his game.
Hooper is considered a solid run blocker, which should help him get a healthy number of snaps as a rookie.
Hooper attended De La Salle High School, running back Terron Ward's alma mater.
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