25-year-old QB draft prospect says he ‘would have myself at No. 1’

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When it comes to NFL draft night party food, Hendon Hooker might already be at the top.  

Hooker and his family are planning a draft party back home in North Carolina. Soul food is on the menu.

“The food is going to be spectacular because I picked the menu,” Hooker said to USA TODAY Sports in an interview through Six Star Pro Nutrition. “It’s gonna be some real down south cooking. We’re gonna have chicken, yams, greens, mac and cheese, cornbread, steaks and some regular cookout food there as well.”

Hooker began playing football at the age of four. Next week, he’ll reach a milestone in the sport when he’s selected by a team in the 2023 NFL draft.

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Top QB draft prospect despite knee injury

The Tennessee quarterback is coming off a serious knee injury suffered in a game versus South Carolina on Nov. 19. Despite being injured during his final college season, Hooker was named SEC offensive player of the year.

Hooker revealed to USA TODAY Sports that his knee is about 75% and that he is expected to be fully cleared on Sept. 1. He’s traveled to and met with 11 teams through the draft process.

“I’ve met with all of them exclusively a lot through this process. Every team wants to continue to build a relationship with me. As I do as well,” Hooker said. “Don’t know where I’m gonna end up, but it’s cool through the process. I’ve seen every team that I went to go visit at least four times each.”

Hooker is projected as a possible first-round pick. He’s a consensus top five quarterback prospect along with Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson and Will Levis.

“We all play completely different from another,” Hooker said of the top five quarterbacks in the 2023 draft class. “Bryce is on the move and can make a lot of exciting plays with his arm and legs. He’s very cool to watch. C.J. has a very smooth throwing motion and can deliver the ball wherever he wants to. Will has a rocket of an arm and A.R. (Anthony Richard) is a freak athletie. We all bring different traits to the table and we all want to compete at a high level.”

Age ain’t nothing but a number

Hooker, 25, is the oldest among the five quarterbacks. He believes his age should be viewed as an asset.

“It’s a long-term position. Tom Brady just finished at 45. The age limit on quarterbacks, there is none. Especially when you can do all the things that quarterbacks are doing. I think my attributes are seeing a lot of different football situations,” Hooker said. “That gives me that edge and my maturity trying to lead men gives me an advantage as well.”

When asked where he ranks himself amongst the top quarterback prospects this year, he puts himself at No. 1.

“Of course, I would have myself at No. 1. I won’t give you a ranking, but I will say I give myself No. 1,” Hooker said. “My football IQ. How I’m able to process things at a high speed. My competitive nature and how accurate I am with the ball. I can make every level throw and also deadly in the run game as well.”

All five of the top quarterback draft prospects are expected to be off the board by the end of the second round. The top quarterback from this year’s class will eventually get settled on the gridiron. What’s already determined, though, is who is bound to have the best draft food. That answer is Hooker.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Tyler Dragon on Twitter @TheTylerDragon.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY