Hardly anyone noticed Austin Hooper when he was coming out of Stanford, but by the middle of 2019, he was every bit as productive as NFL stars Travis Kelce and George Kittle. A look at a rise that made the Browns want to give Hooper a whole lot of money.

Austin Hooper was a relative unknown when he played on a team that nearly won it all. He toiled for losing teams as he became a somebody.

He hopes for the best of both worlds as he waits out the start of his time in Cleveland.

Hooper’s 2019 team, Atlanta, was just as disappointing as the one he is joining. At the midway point, both the Browns and Falcons were 2-6.

Yet, Hooper temporarily became as productive as any tight end in the NFL, as illustrated by comparative stats through eight 2019 games among Hooper and two big stars:

Travis Kelce: 42 catches, 604 yards, two TDs

George Kittle: 46 catches, 546 yards, two TDs

Hooper: 52 catches, 591 yards, six TDs

Hooper suffered a sprained knee in Game 9 and missed three games before returning for the Falcons’ season-ending 4-0 run. While further comparisons with Kelce and Kittle got kayoed by his knee, he struck the Browns as a tight end who has come a long way.