clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NFL Draft profile: Malik Hooker’s instincts can’t be matched

The free safety is a top prospect despite his injury history and only one year of film.

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

He might not have been able to participate at the NFL Combine or Ohio State’s Pro Day, but safety Malik Hooker has already inked a deal with Michael Jordan’s Jumpman brand and is still expected to be a top pick in the draft. Immediately following the season, Hooker went under the knife to repair a torn labrum, but is expected to be back in action in time for rookie camp.

Measurements

Height Weight Arm length Hands 40-yard dash
Height Weight Arm length Hands 40-yard dash
6'1 206 lbs 32 1/4" 10 3/4" DNP

Strengths

  • Hooker’s instincts against the passing game are almost unmatched. Not only in this draft class, but among most NFL players. He makes quick decisions and often reacts faster than receivers to changes to the play by the quarterback.
  • As a former DI basketball prospect, he has great feet and a lean body with great control. His basketball skills have already translated into great hands that can — and do — secure contested takeaways.
  • He’s a ball hog in the best possible way for a secondary player. His focus is on the ball, not necessarily the player he’s covering which, aside from the occasional times this caused issue, resulted in a more dynamic defense that caused chaos for opposing offenses.

Weaknesses

  • Extremely raw with only one year of collegiate game day experience. He might have only seen significant snaps during his final season in Columbus, but he spent years training with some of college’s — and now the NFL’s — best players on both offense and defense.
  • He excels against the pass more so than against the run, but that should come easily with more experience. Hooker still can improve against the run by taking his physicality and tackling to the next level — the safety missed 17 tackles last season for the Buckeyes. Will some focus on the mechanics, he should be able to get away from arm-tackling and improve his production.

Highlights

It wasn’t just a big game against Clemson that started the NFL buzz for Hooker. He was making explosive plays throughout the entire 2016 season.

Stats

What a difference a year makes. Hooker claimed 181 return yards off of his seven (!) interceptions in 2016.

Year Games Solo Tackles Total Tackles Tackle for Loss Sacks Interceptions Touchdowns Passes Defended
Year Games Solo Tackles Total Tackles Tackle for Loss Sacks Interceptions Touchdowns Passes Defended
2015 6 6 10 0 0 0 0 0
2016 13 43 74 5.5 0.5 7 3 4

Projections

Per SB Nation’s Dan Kadar, Hooker is the No. 2 ranked safety in this year’s draft — among a very loaded draft class — and ranked No. 4 overall out of all position groups. He’s long been expected to be a Top 10 pick, but recent rumors seem to suggest he could drop some — assuming they aren’t just smoke, of course.

Outlook

Hooker will be an instant contributor in the NFL. He excels at tracking the ball and making big plays routinely. In addition to bolstering a defense, he also is a great teaching resource during practice for quarterbacks. It was revealed that during his red-shirt season with the Buckeyes, Hooker snagged 40 interceptions while on the scout team. Yes, 40.