Sources Excited About Ohio State Safety Malik Hooker
Updated Sept. 29, 2016
By Charlie Campbell. Follow Charlie on Twitter @draftcampbell.
Every year in college football, there are some players who come out of nowhere to end up being hot NFL prospects. One player who fits that description this year is Ohio State redshirt sophomore safety Malik Hooker. Hooker was a backup behind Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell in 2015, but he has had a huge presence as a replacement in the early going of this season. Some team sources believe that he is going to end up being their top-rated safety for the 2017 NFL Draft and graded higher than LSU's Jamal Adams, Michigan's Jabrill Peppers, or Florida's Marcus Maye.
In three games this year, Hooker has 16 tackles with 1.5 for a loss, half a sack, two passes broken up, and three interceptions with one of them being returned for a touchdown. Teams like that the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder has size and length to go along with speed and instincts. The evaluators who love Hooker feel he is a safety who can do it all. In coverage, he is fast and athletic with the skills to defend the deep part of the field. They also say he has the length and strength to play in the tackle box. They like how Hooker drives down on the ball. They feel he is a fast, rangy defender with good ball skills. Right now, they think Hooker is on his way to being a top-20 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
One top national scout from an NFC team said that Hooker's skill set is the best he's seen from a safety since Eric Berry. He likes Hooker more than Adams, Peppers, or Maye. That scout said in his opinion Hooker could end up being an elite safety prospect comparable to Berry or the late, great Sean Taylor. Many in the scouting community feel that Taylor was the best of the best in terms of safety prospects this century.
Sources from another team said they have been impressed by Hooker, but at this point, think he would be rated behind Adams and Peppers for them. However, it is early in the season, and team contacts believe that Hooker could grow in popularity in the months to come. At this point, Hooker is off to a great start this season for Ohio State and his hopes for the NFL.