Daniel Jones signing a four-year contract worth $160 million meant the New York Giants entered the 2023 NFL draft not needing to find a new quarterback. Yet, that didn’t mean the Giants wouldn’t have selected a talent signal-caller had the right prospect fallen their way.
The right QB would have been Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker, according to NorthJersey.com’s Art Stapleton. He tweeted the “Giants’ interest was real” in the 2022 SEC Offensive Player of the Year had he been available, but Hooker came off the board five picks before the Giants drafted his college teammate, wide receiver Jalin Hyatt.
Hooker went to the Detroit Lions instead, but his damaged ACL means he’s likely to spend most of his rookie year on the shelf. That’s been known for a while, but the Giants still considered Hooker a “genuine option” after giving him a “genuine look,” per Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News.
Taking Hooker would have had interesting implications for the Giants at football’s most important position. Notably, Big Blue would have acquired a natural successor should Jones struggle to live up to his hefty payday this season.
Giants Wise to Look for Daniel Jones Insurance
Jones earned his new deal after a banner campaign, but his one good season came after the Giants initially declined the fifth-year option of his rookie deal. It helped Jones stayed healthy enough to start 17 games, while also limiting his turnovers to five interceptions and three lost fumbles.
While he did a better job of protecting the football, the Giants have still bet big on Jones only moving in one direction after last season. It’s a risk hardly offset by the presence of 33-year-old Tyrod Taylor as his only credible backup.
Veteran Taylor has played for six teams, including the Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns. He’s made a mere 53 starts during a 12-year career, but Taylor has rarely been considered more than a stop-gap passer.
Hooker would have given the Giants considerably more upside.
SEC Standout Would Have Been a Scheme Fit for Giants
Putting Hooker into Giants’ head coach Brian Daboll’s offense would have been a nice match of player and scheme. Former Bills’ offensive coordinator Daboll has traditionally worked wonders calling plays for mobile quarterbacks like Jones and Josh Allen.
Hooker fit the same profile after passing for 3,135 yards and 27 touchdowns for the Volunteers last season. He also added 430 yards and five scores on the ground.
At his best, Hooker dominated teams in both phases, the way he did during a 38-33 win over Florida back in September.
Performances like this explained why the Giants were content to follow Hooker closely in the build up to the draft. The 25-year-old “met extensively” with the Giants and others at the Scouting Combine, according to The Draft Network’s Ryan Fowler, with those meetings encouraging the G-Men to host a pre-draft visit in April, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.
Although nothing ultimately came of the interest, the Giants keeping tabs on Hooker shows Daboll and general manager Joe Schoen are keeping their options open at quarterback. Jones may be signed up, but it’s important for the Giant to have eyes on the future.
It’s doubly important when Davis Webb left to become QB coach for the Denver Broncos, leaving the Giants without an obvious development project at the position. Maybe ex-Illinois’ passer Tommy DeVito, signed as an undrafted free agent, per Dan Duggan of The Athletic, can fill that role.
Either way, expect quarterback to be on the list of the Giants’ priorities for the 2024 NFL draft.