DB Malik Hooker, Ohio St.

6’1” – 206 lbs. – 4.50e

Redshirted, then appeared in a reserve capacity before stepping into the starting lineup last season and having an incredible season before declaring for the draft. Overall size and bulk for the position is solid; arms measured an impressive 32.25”, with gargantuan 10.75” hands. Lines up as a traditional deep/high safety in both single-high and double-high looks. Does a lot of work in deep zones and some as a robber, predominantly working with the play in front of him. Wasn’t really asked to come down into the box regularly and doesn’t have the frame for that type of role either; a free safety all the way. Combines excellent instincts/anticipatory skills with adequate athleticism and effort to be one of the rangiest free safety prospects in recent memory; covers a lot of ground on the back end. One of college football’s premier ball-hawks, bringing excellent ball skills to the table to put himself in position, undercut routes, and come away with interceptions; clearly has the most value as a playmaker in the secondary who can patrol deep zones and create turnovers. Will also shade over to cover slot receivers, often in off-coverage; it’s unclear whether he’s quite athletic enough to do that on a regularly basis, and he’d be too small to man up against most tight ends. Has quick feet and a pretty technically-sound backpedal but wasn’t always asked to do that; a lot of shuffle technique when he’s pulled down in order to shade over. Can plant and drive adequately on spots, although he was victimized by a double move during one of the games reviewed. Some ability to serve as an enforcer over the middle of the field; broke up some passes with well-timed hits during the games reviewed. Willing to come up and defend the run as well; pretty physical for his size, but not an overpowering hitter. Uses wrap tackling technique and generally takes sound angles to the ballcarrier but ended up slipping off of too many tackle attempts last season; reliable last line of defense and good pursuit player but lacks the strength and stopping power to consistently mix it up with more powerful backs. Could do a better job of breaking down. Had some surgeries performed on his shoulder and hernias which may affect his draft stock; one of the top ten players in the draft, but might slip a little bit further depending on how his medical results looked. Despite starting for just one season in college, seems to have one of the most projectable games in this year’s class and could be a quality starter sooner rather than later.

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