Malik Hooker 2017 NFL Draft Profile

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STATE COLLEGE, PA - OCTOBER 22: Malik Hooker #24 of the Ohio State Buckeyes in action during the game against the Penn State Nittany Lions on October 22, 2016 at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Overview
Position:
Safety
Height: 6’2″
Weight: 205 pounds
School: Ohio State Buckeyes

Malik Hooker 2017 NFL Draft Profile

There may not have been more of a breakout player on defense in college football last season than Malik Hooker. The Ohio State safety quickly emerged as the most dynamic playmaker in a secondary accustomed to forcing turnovers. The Buckeyes finished with 21 interceptions (fourth-best in FBS), seven of which were credited to Hooker. Only two other players in the nation had more. And both him and his team lead the nation in pick sixes with three and seven respectively.

His meteoric rise belies the fact that he wasn’t the most heralded recruit out of high school. Rivals rated Hooker as a three-star prospect and the 52nd best safety in the 2014 class. For a school like Ohio State used to bringing in super highly touted talent, Hooker appeared to be more of a depth move at first glance. And after redshirting, he played sparingly as a freshman and primarily on special teams.

But a year later, that all changed. And it didn’t take long for him to announce his arrival as a force to be reckoned with. In the season opener against Bowling Green, he did this.

Much has been made of the veritable NFL factory Urban Meyer has built during his time in Columbus. A total of 26 players have been drafted over the course of his first five seasons as head coach. Players such as Bradley Roby and Eli Apple come to mind when it comes former members of the Buckeye secondary making it in the league. In just a short amount of time, Malik Hooker has established himself as someone who can continue that tradition.

Strengths

  • elite level explosiveness and acceleration.
  • ideal height for the position.
  • off-the-chart ball skills.
  • high motor player with excellent work rate.
  • closes down receivers quickly and efficiently, reducing yards after catch.
  • possesses good football I.Q.
  • intelligent, coachable player able to excel in a variety of coverage shells.
  • not afraid of contact.
  • reliable as it gets in zone coverage over the top.
  • times his pressure well on disguised blitzes.

Weaknesses

  • lack of experience a concern.
  • might need to bulk up to play safety at next level.
  • hugely susceptible to play action.
  • tends to cheat inside, leaving lack of run support when plays flare out to perimeter.
  • footwork can leave him vulnerable in one-on-one situations against shifty running backs.
  • can get overpowered by opposing downfield blockers.
  • overall tackling technique will need to get better.

NFL Comparison: Malcolm Jenkins

Teams With Need at Position: Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams

Projection: Early first round, potentially top five

Bottom Line

Hooker’s decision to declare for the draft came as a bit of a surprise considering his lone year in the collegiate spotlight. And his overall experience at safety is limited having transitioned there from wide receiver when he came to Ohio State. Even before that, Hooker came from a basketball background and didn’t take up football until his junior year of high school.

But there’s a reason he’s generating enormous buzz among scouts and front office executives. The New Castle, PA native has developed a comprehensive skill set at the safety position in a short amount of time. There doesn’t seem to be much doubt about his immense potential and upside at the next level. It’s for that reason that he’s expected to be among the first to have his name called on day one of the draft.

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