Jimmy’s Blog: Is Hooker an NFL prospect?

By Jimmy Hyams / @JimmyHyams

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker has been terrific this season.

The Virginia Tech transfer is arguably the third best signal-caller in the SEC, behind Matt Corral at Ole Miss and Bryce Young at Alabama.

Taylor continues to lead the SEC in pass efficiency (190) while completing 69.4% of his passes for 1,894 yards, 21 touchdowns with just two interceptions. He’s thrown one pick as a starter.

Hooker has also rushed for 458 yards and four touchdowns. And just think, he started this season as UT’s No. 2 quarterback.

Hooker has one more year of eligibility remaining, but could he declare for the NFL this offseason? Is he an NFL caliber quarterback?

“Boy, I’d want him to prove he wasn’t,’’ Neuheisel said. “If I was an NFL executive, I’d want him on my team.

“He’s found ways to win. He’s found ways to blossom in an offense that was unfamiliar to him. He’s a 70% passer. He’s averaging over 10 yards per attempt. Those numbers speak for themselves, and he can get you out of trouble on unscheduled plays with his legs.

“When he’s healthy and everything is going Hendon’s way, he’s exactly who you want playing quarterback.’’

Neuheisel agreed with my comparison of Hooker to Tyron Taylor, who has started for three different NFL teams.

“Tyrod Taylor would be a perfect match,’’ Neuheisel said. “Listen, there’s always room for athletic guys who understand the quarterback position and are accurate enough to complete close to 70% of your passes. That number (completion percentage) has gone way up because the rules have changed.

“The thing in the NFL, people (receivers) don’t stay open as long (on pass routes) — so it’s going to come down to his ability to anticipate throws as to whether or not he has the same kind of experience in the NFL that he’s enjoying right now.’’

NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. of ESPN recently had Hooker rated among the top 10 pro prospects among quarterbacks. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he will be picked in the top two rounds of the NFL draft.

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