Lions Brass Spotted With Elite SEC Quarterback During Senior Bowl Practice

Hendon Hooker

Getty Hendon Hooker celebrates after the 2022 Orange Bowl.

The Detroit Lions have plenty of decisions to make in the 2023 NFL draft, not the least of which is whether or not they need a quarterback for the future.

Jared Goff played very well this past season, which could mean the Lions don’t elect to address the potential need early on in the first-round. Even such, there could be a chance for the Lions to add a developmental player at the spot.

Perhaps enter Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker, one of the SEC’s top passers this past year. Hooker is currently at the Senior Bowl, and while his injury has prevented him from doing work on the field, he has still made the rounds.

Photos surfaced of Hooker meeting with Detroit assistant general manger Ray Agnew on Tuesday, January 31, 2022. Twitter user SandmanLions posted the snapshot, and included a very interesting caption.

“Assume what you will…,” the account tweeted.

Hooker could be a potential day three option for the Lions depending on what happens in the draft. His draft status could have been much better if not for the untimely injury, but it’s the kind of situation that could benefit Detroit as well as Hooker.

The Lions may have no problem spending a fourth to seventh-round pick on Hooker, if indeed that is his ceiling. They might also have no problem stashing him behind Goff and letting him develop. This past season, wideout Jameson Williams was drafted and stashed as he recovered from an ACL injury.

At the very least, pre-draft contact between Hooker and the Lions has been established. Whether it was just a friendly chat or something more remains to be seen.


Hooker Open to Learning Behind Starting QB

With regards to the future, if Hooker did indeed end up on the Lions, he would have to sit behind Goff, the incumbent starter who isn’t likely to be moving on. That’s not a fate that would bother the quarterback, however.

Speaking in a piece by Nolan Bianchi of the Detroit News, Hooker admitted such a scenario would be perfect for him and allow him to come into the mix and soak up plenty of new information for the future to aid in his development and adjustment to the NFL.

“I’d be ecstatic,” Hooker said about the possibility of being drafted to develop under a current starter. “It’s a blessing to be in this position that I’m in. Not a lot of people get to be in this position. So either way it goes, I’m gonna come in, be a sponge, soak up all the information that I can, learn, and when it’s my time to go on the field, I’m gonna take advantage of my opportunity,” he said in Bianchi’s piece.

Detroit general manager Brad Holmes spoke about such a scenario last month when he met with the media on January 10, 2023 to wrap up the 2022 season. He was asked about drafting and stashing a quarterback, and admitted it was a prudent approach.

https://www.youtube.com/live/rf9Tgs-dLWs?feature=share&t=1735

“I think there’s a lot of proof behind that. You can see countless examples of guys that got drafted high, obviously Patrick Mahomes comes up right off the bat of them trading up and taking him high and sitting him, but you can go back to Aaron Rodgers. There’s a lot of proof in the pudding behind taking that approach and I don’t see anything wrong with it. It’s a premium position. They don’t grow on trees. They’re really hard to find. It’s easy to get worse at that position than get better, because there’s so few of them. I’m not against that philosophy of draft one, let them sit and develop and just kind of see what you got down the road,” Holmes said.

Whether Hooker would be a guy that would fit this idea for the team remains to be seen, but it seems to be something that he would be receptive to if it came up.


Hooker’s College Stats & Highlights

In terms of talent, Hooker will be one of the more interesting cases in the draft this coming season. He has plenty of raw talent, but also sustained a tough injury this past season which could threaten his future development.

While Hooker put up 3,135 yards and 27 touchdowns to just two interceptions in 2022 as a leading Heisman Trophy candidate, he also was felled by a torn ACL in November of last year, which is certain to impact his draft stock. Combine that with his age (25), and Hooker is sure to be a polarizing prospect.

There’s no questioning the ability of the quarterback that transferred from Virginia Tech to Tennessee in 2021, however. Hooker put up 8,974 yards in his career and 80 passing touchdowns to just 12 interceptions. He also added 2,079 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns on the ground, proving his dual-threat impact.


Hendon Hooker | 2022 HighlightsHendon Hooker's highlights from the 2022 season! Second Channel: youtube.com/channel/UC8n8qjtOWK1j3tFiZAeeZ4Q Instagram: instagram.com/justin_stewart_5/ Twitter: twitter.com/j_stew55 TikTok: tiktok.com/@sportsproductions2016 ——————————————————————————————————- *I do not own any of the footage or audio in this, it belongs to the NCAA and the copyright owner of the song. I make the videos for entertainment purposes only* #NCAA #HendonHooker #highlights #collegefootball #nfldraft #tennessee2022-11-23T17:01:37Z

The news sounds good on Hooker’s progress, and as he told Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, he could be back running by March, which could leave him on track for a training camp return.

Whether that’s in Detroit or somewhere else remains to be seen, but the Lions at least are getting a feel for the player in Mobile, Alabama this week.

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