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Las Vegas Raiders ‘impressed’ with Hendon Hooker, rank him as third-best quarterback

The Las Vegas Raiders have extensively scouted the 2023 quarterback class, even after signing Jimmy Garoppolo and making him the starter for the upcoming season. With the 2023 NFL Draft, it appears the Raiders’ draft board has come together with Hendon Hooker near the top.

Las Vegas is looking for a quarterback to develop behind Garoppolo next season. With the veteran signal-caller already familiar with coach Josh McDaniels’ scheme, Garoppolo would be the heavy favorite to start in 2023 even if Las Vegas spends a top-10 pick on a quarterback.

  • Hendon Hooker stats (Tennessee): 58-5 TD-INT, 178.3 QB rating, 6,080 passing yards, 68.8% completion rate, 1,046 rushing yards in 24 games

However, the Raiders want more long-term certainty in the position. Garoppolo can be cut or traded in 2024 for significant cap savings, further incentivizing Las Vegas to find a long-term starter. By taking one in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Raiders could let the rookie work alongside McDaniels and learn from him next season with Garoppolo serving as the mentor.

Related: Multiple NFL teams very high on Hendon Hooker

Hooker was a leading Heisman Trophy candidate in 2022 before he suffered a torn ACL against South Carolina. Knee surgery ended his breakout season prematurely, erasing an opportunity for the Tennessee Volunteers to be in the College Football Playoff and seemingly wiping out Hooker’s chance at proving he should be a first-round pick.

Despite being unable to work out for teams during pre-draft visits or at the NFL Scouting Combine, Hooker has made a strong impression on clubs during interviews. With draft day approaching and his stock rising, it appears Hooker is quite high on the Raiders’ draft board.

Related: Hendon Hooker scouting report

According to Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network, Hooker ‘impressed’ Las Vegas during his pre-draft visit with the team a few weeks ago. While the Raiders are much higher on both C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young, Hooker is reportedly the third quarterback on their board.

When draft day arrives, Las Vegas will likely first attempt to trade up for Stroud. With the Carolina Panthers planning to take Young with the top pick, the Houston Texans are reportedly now willing to trade the second pick. If Houston stays put and drafts edge rusher Will Anderson Jr, Las Vegas could trade up for the third overall pick with the Arizona Cardinals.

However, Hooker would seemingly become a target if Las Vegas can’t move up. In that scenario, the Raiders would likely draft an offensive tackle or cornerback with the seventh overall selection. After that, Las Vegas could package multiple Day 2 picks to move back into the first round and take Hooker with a top-30 pick.

Related: NFL insider names three teams who could draft Hendon Hooker in Round 1

It might prove to be the best-case scenario for the Raiders. Hooker will need a full season to recover from knee surgery before he is cleared to play and can run with confidence on his surgically-repaired knee. So, the 2023 NFL season can be used as a redshirt year for him before he takes over as the starting quarterback in 2024.

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