We continue our “Falcons 50” countdown with a look at the Atlanta Falcons’ top offseason moves of 2016. Falcons football is just 30 days away. You can follow along with the full countdown here.
Falcons top offseason moves: #5 Drafting Austin Hooper
Austin Hooper—Atlanta’s third-round draft choice in April—might not be Gonzalez, but he was signed to give the offense a dimension it has lacked all so dearly. At 6-foot-4, 254 pounds, Hooper gives Ryan the big target he needed.
Expectations must be capped for 2016. Hooper, after all, sat out the majority of the Falcons offseason program due to academic commitments. By no fault of his own, Hooper entered training camp behind the eight ball. More importantly, he’s behind Jacob Tamme.
Dependant on how fast the rookie learns Kyle Shanahan’s offense will determine when we will see Hooper make a significant impact in a red and black jersey. Will it be a slow burn a la Justin Hardy, or will production arrive sooner?
The significance of this draft pick don’t rest on the 2016 season. Hooper is Atlanta’s long-term solution at tight end, exactly why Thomas Dimitroff was willing to burn a day two selection to bring him to the Georgia Dome, despite the desperate need for more defensive reinforcements.
At Stanford, Hooper displayed an ability to attack the Y-seam and menace linebackers in the middle of the park. Catching in traffic is his signature, essential to a tight end’s success in the NFL. Hooper’s potential in Shanahan’s offense is sky high. Considering his ability as a pass catcher, the future could he see his importance to the receiving game only championed by star receiver Julio Jones.
Hooper can help the Falcons move the chains on third down. On that merit alone, he was simply too tough to pass up.