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Malik Hooker’s injuries shouldn’t keep him out of the top of the draft

The safety had to miss the workout portion of the NFL Combine, but he still interviewed with teams.

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Ohio State vs Clemson Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Ohio State interception-magnet Malik Hooker traveled to Indianapolis for the NFL Combine even though he was not able to participate in the drills due to a torn labrum and hernia. Despite only having one full season of experience, his natural instincts and penchant for snagging turnovers will make him a top pick in the draft.

The safety is already in discussion to be a first round draft pick in large part to a 2016 season that included 74 total tackles (43 solo) and seven interceptions — with three returned for a touchdown. He finished first in the Big Ten and NCAA for Pick-6’s and first in the Big Ten for interception return yards (181).

His athleticism spans more than just football. Hooker could have played division I basketball coming out of high school, but chose the football path instead. His dual training translates onto the field with loose hips and quick feet.

Measurements

Height: 6’1

Weight: 206 lbs

Hands: 10 3/4”

Arms: 32 1/4”

Media Interviews

The main focus of Hooker’s meetings with teams and the media focused around his injury and the recovery. He was asked how the injury affected his the end of the season, to which he admitted having played through it against Clemson.

“The injury happened Nov. 26 in the game against The Team Up North. When that happened, I didn’t really notice it until after the game. After the game, I couldn’t really walk, I was limping. In practice that week, I wasn’t able to run as well and I just kept playing through it. I played the Clemson game with the injury as well.”

Unlike other players around college football, Hooker never considered out of the bowl game to prevent any further injury. Even being a top NFL prospect didn’t affect the safety’s mentality about competing with his teammates.

“Before even looking into my future, there’s just so much that you put into a program like that. So for me to automatically say I’m not playing because I’m a top 10 pick or whatever the scenario may be, I feel like it’s not fair to Ohio State and the guys I worked with because I was there in the offseason working hard with them, I was there in the rough part of the program, so I feel like it was what I had to do.”

Even with some attrition in the defensive backfield, Hooker isn’t worried about the future of the Buckeye secondary. He believes that the Buckeyes don’t rebuild, they reload, and the group of guys ready to step into the starting roles are just as prepared as the guys walking away.

“It’s not like you’re not good enough, just Ohio State, it’s a major division 1 college, the competition here is crazy, so the guys in line next, they’re just waiting for their opportunity and I feel like they’re going to shine when the opportunity is given to them.”

Hooker spoke a lot about how much the coaching staff at Ohio State helped develop him as both a player and a young man. He credits them for supporting him through his initial homesickness when moving to Columbus and pushed him physically further than he knew he was capable.

Workout Results

Having just had surgery less than two months ago, Hooker is foregoing the workout portion of the combine, and will miss Ohio State’s Pro Day as well. He does expect to be back in time for rookie camp, which is about all that will matter to teams.