IDP Draft Profile: S Malik Hooker, Ohio State

In the stacked safety class of 2017, Malik Hooker is right up there with the best of them (Jamal Adams, Jabrill Peppers, Budda Baker). The former Buckeye was one of many standouts for Ohio State in 2016 as a Redshirt Sophomore, and he is now headed for the NFL.

Safeties today must be extremely versatile – and having a solid frame with elite athleticism really allows Hooker to do that. Fortunately, Hooker is 6’2’’. His excellent frame should have him ready for all the physicality the NFL offers. And man, does he have athleticism! Hooker fits that Cover-1/ Cover-3 free safety (FS) to a T. His straight-line speed allows him to play “centerfield” which could lead to many career interceptions.

Let’s go more in-depth on what makes Hooker a first round talent, and how highly you should regard him as an IDP prospect.

Strengths:

Athleticism. Range is what you need as an FS, and Hooker has an abundance of it. When the FS is playing the deep middle in both Cover-3 and Cover-1, they need to be able to “cover” massive amounts of turf to help the outside corners. Hooker does that well. Hooker’s athleticism is also very useful in assisting in the run game in quickly closing gaps.

Ball Skills. The video above is obviously just one example, but Hooker’s ball skills have me really excited about his potential! At a height of 6’2’’, he may be taller than many of the receivers he is covering. That’s a nice bonus. If he can learn to time his jumps and take the ball out of the air, Hooker could be an interception machine. Pair that with his speed, and you may have a pick-6 machine.

Zone Coverage. This is what really completes Hooker as an elite FS prospect. He is a knowledgeable zone defender. It is huge for a defensive coordinator to be able to trust their last line of defense to make smart plays in the passing game, and Hooker does it. If Hooker can translate this skill to the NFL, he may be given a long leash to take chances, which again, should help him create turnovers left and right.

Weaknesses:

Technique/ Run Defense. While Hooker has great hips, his tackling and body control need vast improvement. Body control is usually something that gets better with experience, and since Hooker was only a Redshirt Sophomore last year, this is not as big of a concern as his tackling. Hooker too often missed easy tackles which put other Buckeye defenders in tough situations. He simply must clean it up. Fortunately, he has a great frame, so if he can fix his technique, he should be fine.

Man Coverage. Hooker’s lack of proficiency in man-coverage is a little mind-boggling., He has great hips, is a great athlete, and is tall at 6’2’’. But for some reason, he struggles. Like his body control, this should get better with experience, but it is certainly something to keep an eye on.

Summary:

Malik Hooker is a first-round talent., There is little doubt about that. As for IDP, I love his potential as a ballhawk. My advice would be to value him behind Jamal Adams, but right there with Jabrill Peppers and Budda Baker. Be patient with the former buckeye as he needs to work out some kinks in his game, but when he does, he may just dominate.

Check out some of Hooker’s highlights:

Oklahoma game tape

Wisconsin game tape

Clemson game tape

 

bylitalo

Bradley Ylitalo, Minneapolis MN. Bethel Football Student Coach. Scouting/Devy writer for the Dynasty Football Factory. Follow me on twitter @NFL_drafthub or find me on facebook: Bradley Ylitalo

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