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Dynasty Prospect Profile: Austin Hooper

By Kevin English 7:12pm EDT 3/23/16

Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford

Height: 6’4
Weight: 254
Age: 21.5


Combine Results

(Percentile rank among all TEs at the Combine since 1999, courtesy of mockdraftable.com):

40-yard dash: 4.72 (66th)
Vertical: 33” (47th)
Broad: 117” (68th)
3-cone: 7.00 (79th)
20-yard short shuttle: 4.32 (63rd)

College Career

Hooper redshirted in 2013, so we have only 2 years of action to dissect. He certainly could have developed further had he returned for another year. A weak TE class likely influenced his decision to turn pro, though.

That’s not to say he’s a no-namer. He emerged from high school as a 4 star recruit. And while his college numbers don’t truly stand out, a closer look at Stanford’s offense helps explain why.

Across all of Division I-A, only 15 teams threw the ball fewer times than the Cardinals did (318) last season. 2014 produced slightly more balance, but Stanford’s identity remained on the ground.

Several positive traits stood out when Hooper was utilized. He showed WR-like athleticism while seeing time out wide, in the slot and inline. Stanford’s run-heavy attack also gave Hooper extra blocking reps. However, as with most young TEs, that area of his game is a work in progress.

Hooper must improve his hands, too. Per NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, the 21-year-old recorded 9 drops in his college career, placing his drop rate at nearly 11%. For some NFL context, only 2 pass catchers posted a double digit drop rate last season (minimum of 50 targets). Improvement in that area is certainly possible – Hooper boasts massive 10 5/8" hands. And as you’ll see, he proved that he can make tough catches.

(Note that the only highlights used are from the USC game, as Hooper wasn’t targeted vs. Notre Dame.)

Film Study

(Courtesy of DraftBreakdown.com)

Games watched: Notre Dame (2014), USC (2015)

Hooper (#18, slot) is isolated on a LB. He proceeds to break down the defender and power his way to paydirt.

Here’s another angle. Hooper shows great feet and suddenness while setting up #35 and beating him to the inside. At 6’4, Hooper isn’t supersized. But at 254 pounds, he’s thick enough to effectively use his frame to shield defenders.

Think Hooper’s just a short-rage target? Nope. As Zierlein notes on NFL.com, Hooper has “enough burst to create separation from linebackers and safeties over the top.” Here, he effectively high points the ball in heavy traffic. He also displays great hand strength by completing the contested catch to the ground.

Hooper’s ability to make contested grabs comes up once again. It’s a key attribute for a guy who’s not a pure burner. If his route running doesn’t improve at the next level, Hooper might have a tough time emerging.

Fantasy Outlook

Hooper figures to come off the board in Round 2 or Round 3 of the NFL Draft. There are certainly several teams that remain in need of TE help, with the Jets, Texans and Falcons among them. But as noted in Hunter Henry’s prospect profile, rookie TEs have historically struggled. So we’re likely looking at Hooper as more of a dynasty asset than a redraft one.

Hooper’s at least building some momentum leading into the draft. He improved his 40-time at Stanford’s pro day by clocking a 4.65, and his on-field drills proved solid, too.

“I thought he ran and caught the ball well today,” said NFL Network’s Mike Mayock.

Hooper’s also spent time training with and gaining NFL insight from former Stanford Cardinal Zach Ertz. He, along with Coby Fleener, have shown that Stanford can produce solid fantasy contributors.

Ultimately, we’re looking at Hooper as a watch list type in year 1. Long-term, he checks enough boxes athletically to potentially enter the TE1 mix.

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