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PFF scouting report: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 26: Malik Hooker #24 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs for a touchdown after intercepting a pass by Wilton Speight #3 (not pictured) of the Michigan Wolverines during the first half of their game at Ohio Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Name: Malik Hooker

School: Ohio State

Position fit: Safety

Stats to know: His seven interceptions tied for the most in the country among safeties, while his tackling efficiency ranked 136th

What he does best:

  • Has the natural speed, athleticism that can't be coached
  • Has the agility, closing speed to recover even when he takes a false step or turns the wrong way
  • Elite range, tracking skills
  • When he picks one off he has the speed and vision to score from anywhere on the field
  • Trust his reads and breaks earlier than any safety in the class

Biggest concern:

  • Doesn’t bring his arms to wrap up on tackles
  • Limited feel for inside running game – tends to run himself out of plays, gaps
  • Gets overly aggressive against both the run and pass, will overrun assignments
  • Leaves his feet too often, causing him to miss tackles
  • When he is the underneath safety playing zone, he struggles to consistently identify target
  • From zone coverage tends to attack the first thing he sees and leaves himself susceptible to being out of position
  • Must improve pedal technique for man coverage – gets upright, too far on his heels

Player comparison: Reggie Nelson, Oakland Raiders

Nelson is a rangy free safety who is capable of making game-changing plays on the back end with his ability to outplay receivers for the ball in the air and net significant returns. Nelson has never graded significantly above-average against the run during his NFL career.

Bottom line:

Hooker is very much a projection at this point, as he has the athletic skill set to be an impact player, but his all-around game is clearly undeveloped as of now. His ability to track the ball and outplay receivers in the air is unmatched, as evidenced not only by his seven interceptions, but the content of the plays. His athletic ability is such that he is capable of staying with virtually any slot receiver in the league in man coverage situations, and he has some experience with this from college. Ohio State often used him as a single-high free safety, but when he was asked come into the box in run support or in underneath coverage he had significant struggles. Hooker missed 13 tackles on the season while managing just 17 stops.

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