NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah has the Minnesota Vikings taking former Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker in the first-round of the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft as part of his latest mock draft released on Tuesday (March 21).
"The Vikings have been doing their homework on this quarterback class. Hooker is well-liked around the league and he could sit for a year behind Kirk Cousins before taking over and ushering in a new era for Kevin O’Connell," Jeremiah wrote.
Hooker led the Vols to a 9-2 record in 11 games before suffering a torn ACL during Tennessee's loss to South Carolina on November 19, 2022. The redshirt senior is also 25 year old, making him one of the oldest players eligible for this year's draft, having spent four years at Virginia Tech before transferring to Tennessee in 2021.
Hooker was, however, one of college football's best quarterbacks prior to his injury, still finishing fourth in passing yards (3,135) and third in touchdowns (27) among all SEC quarterbacks, despite missing his final two games. The North Carolina native also helped lead Tennessee to its best season in decades, finishing at No. 6 overall in the final Associated Press poll and topping the initial College Football Playoff Top 25 prior to its first loss of the season.
The Vikings would also provide Hooker with a scenario in which he'd have time more to recover with quarterback Kirk Cousins signed through the 2023 season. The decision to select a quarterback in the first-round would, however, likely mean the end of Cousins' tenure with the Vikings as he enters free agency in 2024.