2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Ohio State S Malik Hooker


From now until the 2017 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to showcase as many prospects as possible and examine both their strengths and weaknesses. Most of these profiles will feature individuals that the Pittsburgh Steelers are likely to have an interest in, while a few others will be top-ranked players. If there is a player you would like us to analyze, let us know in the comments below.

Malik Hooker/S/Ohio State — 6’1”, 206 Lbs

The Good

-Great in coverage and appears most-comfortable as a single high safety
-Shown the ability to play man coverage lined up in slot
-Tremendous ball skills for defensive back
-Sound technique as a tackler when coming up to play run
-Gifted athlete for safety position
-Explosive lower body that leads to high-end leaping ability

The Bad


-Not overly physical coming downhill against the run
-Tends to freelance in coverage at times and is susceptible to play fakes
-Just one year of playing time at Ohio State
-Very raw defender that is still learning the position
– Struggles with angles at times trying to fill lanes

 Bio

-First Team AFCS, Associated Press, FWAA, Walter Camp, USA Today, The Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and CBS Sports All-American
-First Team All-Big Ten as voted on by coaches and media
-Thorpe Award semifinalist
-Ranked sixth nationally with six interceptions and led the FBS with three INTs returned for TDs
-Ranked second nationally with 181 INT return yards and he was third on the team with 67 tackles, including 5.0 tackles for loss
-New Castle, Pa product

Tape Breakdown

Malik Hooker burst onto the scene in 2016 with a bang, becoming one of the most dangerous defensive backs in all of college football for the Ohio State Buckeyes, who reached the College Football Playoff for the second time in three seasons.

Hooker reeled in six interceptions defensively for the Buckeyes, serving as a versatile safety that could play in the box, single-high and in the slot, matching up in zone or in man coverage while serving as a steady run defender.

Despite being steady against the run last season, Hooker needs a ton of work in that department, which is understandable considering how raw he is as a defender at the collegiate level.

Starting off in the box against the Sooners, Hooker reads run quickly and starts to slide into position, but while sliding into position he overpursues slightly, allowing Joe Mixon to cut back to his right, causing Hooker to fall helplessly to the turf.

There are times throughout the season that Hooker takes poor angles to the football when coming up into the box to support against the run, but that can be cleaned up at the next level.

What really stands out with Hooker and has his stock as high as its ever been is due to his incredible ball skills for a defensive back, which has most draftniks mentioning Ed Reed when talking about Hooker’s ability to create turnovers as a safety.

Look at the amount of ground that Hooker eats up before then coming up with a spectacular grab while falling to the ground for the interception.

Sure, the one-handed play on the ball before having the hand-eye coordination to make the play while falling is quite impressive, but his ability to read the quarterback’s eyes and close on the football from the far hash is absurd.

In fact, Hooker did something similar in the final game of the year, picking off Clemson’s Deshaun Watson in the College Football Playoff semifinal in Arizona.

Same style of play, just from the opposite side of the field.

No throw is really safe when Hooker is lined up at safety. When he’s able to play deep and read the quarterback’s eyes from a centerfield-type role, he’s deadly.

When he’s able to sit there and read what’s happening in front of him, he’s able to react quickly, putting himself in the best possible position to make plays on the ball, even if it’s a ball carrier.

Hooker reads the tight end screen quickly, allowing him to dip under a block from a Wisconsin lineman to make the stop near the line of scrimmage.

You can see Hooker taking a few steps downhill at the snap, looking to play the run, but from there he shows the patience to read the play, exploding forward to get in the best position possible to make the stop, shutting down a potential big play on the tight end screen.

Despite being so raw as a defender when it comes to identifying formations, reading plays and showing patience from the safety position, Hooker is no doubt one of the top talents in the 2017 draft, simply because of the best ball skills for a defensive back in the group, as well as his incredibly high ceiling once he figures it out at the next level.

Although there’s a very strong possibility that the redshirt sophomore struggles in his first year in the NFL, there’s not a doubt in my mind we’re looking at a future All-Pro safety at the next level.

Projection:  Early Day One

Games watched:  vs. Bowling Green (’16), at Oklahoma (’16), at Wisconsin (’16), at Penn State (’16), vs. Nebraska (’16), at Michigan (’16), vs. Clemson (’16)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3KGCb9zV0vw

Previous 2017 NFL Draft Player Profiles
Deshaun WatsonHaason ReddickMarshon LattimoreCorey ClementTim Williams
Jourdan LewisTakkarist McKinleyBrad KaayaNathan PetermanO.J. Howard
Charles HarrisAlvin KamaraTyus BowserDavid NjokuDeMarcus Walker
Chidobe AwuzieDeShone KizerMarlon MackCameron SuttonZach Cunningham
Corey DavisCarl LawsonPatrick MahomesKareem HuntEvan Engram
Derek RiversRyan AndersonJoshua DobbsJordan LeggettSamaje Perine
Corn ElderBucky HodgesJames ConnerCooper KuppStanley Williams
Fred RossJamaal WilliamsGeorge KittleEjuan PriceChris Wormley
Jeremy McNicholsJoe MathisDerek BarnettAmba Etta-TawoGareon Conley
Taco Charlton Elijah McGuireRyan SwitzerTanoh KpassagnonTre’Davious White
Brian HillMatthew DayesDonnel PumphreyJosh ReynoldsNazair Jones
De’Veon SmithDavis WebbObi MelifonwuTJ WattJohn Ross
Jerod EvansVince BiegelJosh CarrawayJosh MaloneKevin King
Fadol BrownChris GodwinNate GerryJordan WillisStacy Coley
Zay JonesJimmie GilbertGlen AntoineTarell BashamDuke Riley
Rayshawn JenkinsChad KellyTrey HendricksonJeremy SprinkleJoe Williams
D’Onta ForemanCarlos WatkinsDamontae KazeeWayne GallmanWillie Quinn
Xavier WoodsElijah HoodMalik McDowellDesmond KingSolomon Thomas
Cordrea TankersleyRaekwon McMillanJosh Harvey-ClemonsChristian McCaffreyChris Carson
Montravius AdamsAaron JonesMack HollinsDeatrich Wise JrAdoree’ Jackson
JuJu Smith-SchusterJosh JonesDavon GodchauxLorenzo JeromeQuincy Wilson
Stevie Tu’ikolovatuMike WilliamsAhkello WitherspoonDede WestbrookTedric Thompson
Marcus MayeJoe MixonTaywan TaylorTyson FernandezJarrad Davis
Ishmael ZamoraDaeshon HallCJ BeathardKendell BeckwithJalen Reeves-Maybin
Rasul DouglasMarcus WilliamsDevonte FieldsJustin EvansKenny Golladay
Marquez WhiteChad WilliamsCurtis SamuelD.J. JonesSeth Russell
Amara Darboh

  • The Chin

    Wow would he be nice at 30. We can only dream

  • harding36

    Love this guy. Maybe we can trade AB to move into the top 5 for him… 😉

  • Jon Crissinger

    The best comparison I can come up with for him is Ed Reed. Which is pretty lofty comparison, but when he gets his hands on the ball he’s more than likely to take it back and has just as much range.

  • Steelers12

    haha good joke

  • Steelers12

    wow Reed was a bad boy

  • Steelers12

    if he falls to us at 30 i will wear a ravens jersey for a week

    never mind i cant do it

  • Jon Crissinger

    Hooker had 183 yards on 6 interceptions. 3 to the house

  • Steelers12

    Yeah but just hearing reed as a comparison is crazy

  • Jon Crissinger

    I don’t really know who else. Maybe Reggie Nelson, but the return skills are nowhere near Hooker

  • Steelers12

    No chance he falls to 30

  • Ike Evans

    Best safety in this class…over jam…over jabril

  • LucasY59

    you would think a player that had surgery and wasnt able to participate in the combine or pro day, and has such a limited amount of experience would still be available at the 30th pick, but I doubt he even makes halfway to that,

    a top 15 talent, and the crazy thing is that Adams is also in that category, I think both of them should be picked in the top ten (but teams reaching for a QB could push them out to around 15) that is still 2 Safeties picked very early,

    last yr Joseph and Neal were 14 and 17 and I thought that was rare, the yr before that Collins was the 1st one picked at #33 (lots of teams probably regret passing on him)*Byron Jones went #27 but was classified as a CB, you have to go back to 2010 when Berry was #5 and Thomas was #14 to find a pair earlier than #15 (and both of them are really good) 2006 was the only yr recently were 2 went earlier than #10 when Huff and Whitner went back to back #7 & 8 *the one thing I will say is that the NFL dot com site has some trouble categorizing players on the searchable list and some players listed as DBs were included with the CBs? (i.e. Polomalu)

    the other thing with looking back at Safeties in previous drafts is that there are rarely more than 2 or 3 picked in the 1st rd, so this yr with Hooker and Adams being early picks there is a good chance a guy like Melifonwu should be available for the Steelers pick (especially if Peppers is also a 1st rd pick)

  • Terrible Towlie

    our chances to draft Hooker are about the same as winning the lottery…..saying that, what “big name” do yins see falling?

  • Paddy

    Would be great to get a local kid but no chance on this player. Should have signed him out of high school!

  • Donte Williams

    Jarrad, Barnett, Obi one Kanobi, Tabor, White are some names that can slip to us there will be at least one or two or maybe all that will fall to us it happens every year and dont be surprised to see a name like Rivers Lawson or another top tier CB fall to us in the 2nd