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We begin this week's Dynasty Watch article on a bit of a down note.
It was announced on Monday that Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker suffered a torn ACL in last week's loss to South Carolina, ending his season and his career with the Vols.
Currently ranked as the No. 4 quarterback of the 2023 NFL Draft Class per NFL Mock Draft Database, Hooker was on pace for a Heisman Trophy run just a few weeks ago and had the Vols ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation before a Week 10 loss to Georgia removed them from their brief stay on the throne.
Hooker helped put Tennessee back on the map last season when he threw for 2948-31-3 while leading the Vols to a 7-6 record in their first year under Josh Heupel. For an encore, he'd throw for 3135-27-2 in 11 games while adding 566 yards and five touchdowns on the ground per PFF. Facing stout SEC competition, Hooker has proven more than capable of protecting the ball against some of the best defenses the nation has to offer. He's thrown dating back to last season he's thrown five interceptions and had just 14 turnover-worthy plays on 795 dropbacks.
Hooker will be an interesting prospect to evaluate heading into the offseason. The former four-star recruit was a member of the 2017 recruiting class and will be one of the oldest players of the 2023 NFL Draft Class. Hooker originally committed to Virginia Tech and spent four seasons in the program before opting to transfer. His emergence in 2021 came after he failed to make an impact as a starter with the Hokies even though he was never playing behind NFL-caliber talent.
Despite his injury, Hooker has a chance to be a late first-round pick or at worst, a Day 2 pick. The trick will be getting teams to buy into what he showed during his last two seasons while brushing aside four underwhelming years to start his career.
I've been a fan of Hooker's since he emerged early last season with the Vols and am excited to see what he's capable of offering at the NFL level, and how he can contribute to future dynasty rosters. With Week 12 now in the books, let's have a look at some other Week 12 performances put forth by some of the best the 2023 class has to offer.
Israel Abanikanda, RB (Pittsburgh)
Rushing: 17 carries, 113 yards, 1 TD
Receiving: 2 receptions, 21 yards, 0 TDs
We've yet to talk about Pitt's Israel Abanikanda, but his 2022 season is one we can't ignore. A breakout star from the 2021 season (123-651-7), Abanikanda entered this season with sky-high expectations. Through 10 games, it's safe to say the junior running back has lived up to the hype.
He currently ranks 11th in the nation with 1,315 rushing yards, is tied for second with 18 touchdowns, and is sixth in breakaway rushing yards per PFF with 594. His 2.73 YCO/ATT rank in the top 40 of all qualified running backs, and he's also added 10-138-1 through the air on 15 targets.
In last Saturday's win over Duke, Abanikanda rushed for 100+ yards for the fifth-straight game, as he helped lead the Panthers to a 28-26 win. His longest run of the day came on a 26-yard gain and was one of three 20+ yard rushes for him on the afternoon. A six-yard touchdown marked his only score on the day, but it was an overall solid day for Pitt's lead back.
A former three-star recruit from the 2020 recruiting class, Abanikanda ran a laser-timed 4.50 40-yard dash in April of 2019 and has presumably only gotten faster over the last three years. Listed at 5-foot-11, 215-pounds, the 11th-ranked running back of the 2023 draft class per NFL Mock Draft Database (assuming he declares), makes for an interesting prospect as he's continued to show drastic improvement since his 2020 freshman season.
Jordan Addison, WR (USC)
Receiving: 11 receptions, 178 yards, 1 TD
As far as this season goes, Jordan Addison isn't going to touch the numbers he posted in 2021 with Pitt. The former Panther went off for an absurd 93-1479-17 in his final season with the team and has caught 51 passes for 765 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
While he may not surpass last year's production, there's no denying Addison's NFL pedigree. The junior receiver is averaging a solid 3.01 YRR on the season and ranks 19th among wide receivers with a 7.4 YAC/REC. In last week's Pac-12 rivalry game against UCLA, Addison turned in his best performance of the season, catching 11 passes for 178 yards (both season-highs), while hauling in a 35-yard touchdown in the third quarter to give the Trojans a 27-24 lead.
Regarded by many as a first-round pick (and by some as the best receiver of the 2023 class), Addison opted to join USC in what's expected to be his final season and has boosted his draft stock under the tutelage of head coach Lincoln Riley. While his raw production numbers won't match what he did last season, his efficiency numbers have improved in each of his three seasons. Addison will have time to solidify himself as the No. 1 receiver of his class throughout the pre-draft process, but until then, he'll look to continue his climb with his on-field performance for the Trojans.
Johnny Wilson, WR (Florida State)
Florida State's Johnny Wilson ran just three routes in last weekend's win over Louisiana Lafayette, but we're running short on regular season games and I wanted to make sure I touched on him.
For starters, there's a very good chance Wilson doesn't declare at the end of this season. The former Arizona State receiver has posted career-high receiving numbers across the board in his first year with the Noles, totaling 33 receptions for 649 yards and five touchdowns on the year while averaging an impressive 19.7 YPR.
At 6-foot-7, 235-pounds, Wilson is an enormous, but raw NFL prospect, who will make for an interesting project if he were to declare after this season.
He's shown flashes at various points this year, going for 60+ yards in six of 11 games played, while surpassing 100 yards twice. His biggest game of the season came in Week 3 against Louisville when he erupted for a 7-149-2 line, in a 35-31 win for the Seminoles.
In that game, Wilson secured each of his two contested targets and hauled in a 69-yard reception for one of his biggest gains on the season.
Wilson is the kind of player dynasty players will monitor all offseason if he does declare. His height alone makes him an interesting player to watch, but he's also tied with Addison in YAC/REC (7.4) and has forced a missed tackle on 27.3% of his receptions. A former four-star recruit from the 2020 class, Wilson has always shown the potential to be a talented Power Five receiver. After spending two years on the sideline with Arizona State, there's no denying he's made the most of his opportunity in his first season as a starter.
Tucker Kraft, TE (South Dakota State)
We might as well get familiar with Tucker Kraft. The South Dakota State tight end became one of the first players to declare for the 2023 NFL Draft and is currently ranked as the No. 4 tight end of his class per NFL Mock Draft Database. Kraft may be far better than his ranking as the No. 4 tight end of the 2023 class, as The Athletic's Dane Brugler tweeted that he has Kraft ranked as the 33rd-best player of his draft class.
Kraft, who missed over a month with an ankle injury this season, said in his announcement that he intends to play out the remainder of South Dakota State's games before beginning draft prep, but the junior tight end has put together a solid body of work through three seasons.
Injuries have limited him to just 19 receptions for 232 yards and two touchdowns this season, but in 2021 he broke out for 65-770-6, which ranked sixth among all FBS and FCS tight ends in the nation. Per PFF, his 6.3 YAC/REC from last season was good for eighth-best in that group, while his 16 missed tackles forced was good for second in the nation.
At 6-foot-5, 255-pounds, Kraft is built like an absolute force. He should have no trouble adjusting to the physical nature of the NFL and has the potential to develop into a solid receiving threat down the line.