NFL

Scouting the NFL Draft: Ohio State S Malik Hooker

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Malilk Hooker, S, Ohio State
Ht. 6'2", Wt. 205, Arm: -, Hand: -, Bench: -
40 yd: -, 10 yd.: -, 3 Cone: -, Vertical: -, Broad: -
Games Watched: Oklahoma, Penn State, Wisconsin, Clemson

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Malik Hooker didn't even play football until his junior year in high school. After starting for two years at WR and CB, the 4-star recruit committed to Ohio State. He redshirted his first season in Columbus and played sparingly — mostly on special teams — registering 10 tackles in 13 games as a redshirt freshman.

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And then he blew up. Hooker burst onto the national scene in 2016, finishing  with 74 tackles, 7 interceptions (returning 3 for TD), 5.5 TFL and 4 passes broken up. He was named a first-team All-America, a Thorpe Award semifinalist and he drew Ed Reed comparisons from his defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, who was also Reed's college defensive coordinator.

Strengths

• Ballhawk - Excellent tracker, good hands
• Range - Reads QBs' eyes, covers a ton of ground
• Speed - Exceptional recovery speed, penetrates quickly
• Athleticism - Should test well
• Size - Good size for position
• Hips - Fluid transition in coverage
• Instincts - Excellent in coverage

Weaknesses

• Inexperience - 1-year playing the position
• Tackling - Drops head, stops feet
• Play fakes - Too often fooled by misdirection
• Run support - Willing, but not always effective

Verdict: First Round

Hooker isn't Ed Reed right now, but he has the potential to be. He looked like a project at the beginning of the season, but his learning curve has been steep. He still has a few things to work on, but he's shown the athleticism, instincts, range and potential to make him worthy of a top-20 pick.

Aside from backfield disruption, creating turnovers is an area where the Cowboys' defense must improve. In the last two years, the unit has ranked 19th and 32nd in the NFL in takeaways. A ballhawking safety like Hooker would go a long way toward improving a defense that ranked 27th in the league last season with 9 interceptions.

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