With Ladarius Green leaving, Chargers should draft Austin Hooper


Former San Diego Chargers tight end Ladarius Green was quite impressed with the fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Green recently told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that those fans coming to a Chargers home game last October helped him make up his mind to sign with the Steelers this offseason.

“Did I notice?”I think everyone noticed the number of Steelers fans out there. When you saw the towels in there it was pretty bad for us because we had to go on silent count. We knew they were there. You want to be around that kind of stuff. It was a pretty big point in coming.”

The Chargers were able to re-sign one of their prime targets this offseason, agreeing to terms with Antonio Gates, one of the best tight ends in NFL history. However, the Chargers are going to need more depth at the position, particularly with Gates turning 36 years old in June.

If you have yet to hear the name Austin Hooper, now is the time to get familiar.

Hooper played his college ball and Stanford and is one of the top tight end prospects in April’s NFL draft. In two years the run-heavy school, Hooper caught 74 passes for 937 yards and eight touchdowns while averaging 12.7 yards per reception.

Austin Hooper's stock up. 4.72 at 254 lbs will do that. "He could now be the 1st TE selected." #Stanford #NFLDraft https://t.co/nDrpseXJ5d

— Steve Caric (@Caricsportsmgt) March 2, 2016

Hooper is the kind of player that can be molded into an excellent professional tight end. Though his 6’4″, 248-pound frame doesn’t suggest it, Hooper is a strong player who is a solid blocker. His technique will need to improve at the next level, but coaches will appreciate his effort

In the passing game, he shows plenty of athleticism to go with a great set of hands. He can make tough catches with defenders surrounding him and after the catch, he is a load to bring down. Though he’ll need some fine-tuning, Hooper looks like a terrific prospect for the next level.

Aside from Gates, the Chargers have Asante Cleveland, Sean McGrath and Tim Semisch as the other tight ends on the roster. That trio has a total of 27 career catches, and McGrath hasn’t caught a pass since the 2013 season in Kansas City.

The Chargers need another weapon at this position, specifically one that brings youth and the ability to grow into the Chargers’ system.

Hooper would be an excellent pick at No. 66 in the third round.