Cleveland Browns Should Draft Malik Hooker

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 31: Malik Hooker #24 of the Ohio State Buckeyes intercepts a pass intended for Hunter Renfrow #13 of the Clemson Tigers during the first half of the 2016 PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on December 31, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

When looking at the 2017 NFL Draft class, one thing is crystal clear: the safety class is amazing. With each new mock draft, it seems that more and more safeties turn up in the first round. However, two safeties have stayed at the tops of draft boards since the very first mock. One is LSU’s Jamal Adams: a long, athletic safety that can make nearly every play needed of him. However, there is still another safety prospect that has stayed atop mock drafts for months now. One that, with the twelfth overall pick, the Cleveland Browns may want to look into. Enter Ohio State’s jaw-dropping free safety, Malik Hooker.

Cleveland Browns Should Draft Malik Hooker

He’s A Natural

One thing to note about Malik Hooker is his phenomenal instinct. During his senior year of high school, Hooker had only played football for two years. He was mainly a basketball player, leading his high school team to a state title that year. And yet, he garnered interests from coaches everywhere, including Ohio State’s Urban Meyer. Since his senior year, he has improved incredibly at the game of football.

Maybe Malik Hooker just has secret knowledge of football. Maybe he’s a really, really fast learner. Whatever his special skill is, it’s working quite nicely for him. Hooker is a true natural at the safety position, and instinctively knows what to do. One of Hooker’s scouting reports notes that he is “hyper-aware” of his situation and placement on the field, which couldn’t be any more true. Hooker has a true gift on the field, and a big part of that is due to his instinct.

Athleticism and Range

Along with his incredible mental skills, Malik Hooker has the physical tools to get it done. Standing at 6’1 and weighing 206, Hooker has great size for a safety. Additionally, his basketball player-esque speed is amazing to watch on a football field. Because of his basketball background, Hooker is also incredibly free and fluid during play. Oh, and his range is incredible.

When watching Hooker on film, it’s impossible not to notice his range. Truthfully, it’s almost beautiful in a football kind of way. Malik Hooker can cover an absolutely insane amount of ground while the football is in the air. Therefore, he can make almost any play he pleases. At times, Hooker feels like a fail-safe for the defensive secondary. If the other safety or a cornerback blows his coverage, Hooker can still get there to make the play. When dealing with the Browns, who currently have one of the league’s worst defenses, this can be very helpful. Cleveland needs a bail-out player to get their defense out of sticky situations. And with Hooker’s uncanny range and interception ability, he can be just that. The perfect bail-out.

Unlimited Potential

Perhaps the most exciting thing about Malik Hooker is his incredible potential. Remember, he only started playing football as a junior in high school, and was recruited by Ohio State. That alone screams potential, but Hooker didn’t stop there. In 2016, he had an incredible year with seven interceptions, with three of them going for touchdowns. And now, he’s going to the NFL (at only 21 years old). Malik Hooker has amazing upside and was already a great college player. If a coach like Gregg Williams can unlock his full potential, Hooker could become a downright deadly force on the Browns defense.

Conclusion and Pro Comparison

Plain and simple, Malik Hooker is one of the best defenders in this draft class. There’s not a ton to say about him that hasn’t already been said many times before. But truthfully, Hooker has it all. First off, he has great mental instincts and playmaking ability. Perhaps more importantly than that, he has the physical ability to capitalize on his mental edge on the field. And the icing on the cake is that he isn’t done improving; his potential is second-to-none in the class. Many scouts Hooker liken him to the either current Raider Reggie Nelson or the great Ed Reed. And if that’s true, his pro team could have a true defensive superstar on their hands come next season. Hopefully for the ever-faithful fans of the Dawg Pound, that pro team is the Cleveland Browns.

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