Lions HC Dan Campbell Spins Hendon Hooker’s Age As A Positive

NFL Draft prospect Hendon Hooker

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In the third round of the 2023 NFL Draft, the Detroit Lions selected University of Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker — who was the SEC Offensive Player of the Year last season — with the 68th overall pick.

While taking a quarterback in the third round isn’t all that newsworthy, Hooker’s age of 25 years old made him an object of fascination among NFL fans heading into the draft.

Lions head coach Dan Campbell, however, recently argued that the team viewed Hooker’s age as a positive when deciding whether or not they wanted to draft him.

“We did go into this offseason saying that we wanted to bring in some competition at quarterback,” Campbell said during a recent appearance on the Green Light with Chris Long podcast.

“We didn’t know exactly where that might be, who that would be at the time, but we did like Hooker. We knew he was coming off the injury, but there was something about him that was appealing. He’s very mature, he looks the part, he’s got a big arm. He’s just got to learn to play in the NFL. He’s a pro, now, and I like the fact that he was older. We all kind liked the fact that he was older. I think you want your quarterback to be more mature.”

Drafting an older rookie quarterback — like drafting any rookie quarterback — can go one of two ways.

In 2012, for example, the Cleveland Browns made history when they made Oklahoma State University quarterback Brandon Weeden the oldest player to ever be taken in the first round of the NFL Draft, as he was 28 years old at the time of his selection.

Weeden, however, lasted just one full season as the Browns’ starter — in 15 games, he completed 57% of his passes for 3,385 yards, 14 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions — and was ultimately out of the league by 2018.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, however, are the Cincinnati Bengals, who drafted LSU quarterback at 23 years old. Burrow has been a revelation for the franchise and has led them to two AFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl appearance in his three seasons.

While the 23-year-old Burrow is obviously half a decade younger than Weeden was, 23 is still an above-average age for a rookie quarterback. Hooker, at 25 years old, finds himself right in between those two ages.