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2017 NFL Draft Profile: Safety Malik Hooker

Dec 31, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes safety Malik Hooker (24) intercepts a pass intended for Clemson Tigers wide receiver Hunter Renfrow (13) during the second quarter during the 2016 CFP semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Sports
Dec 31, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes safety Malik Hooker (24) intercepts a pass intended for Clemson Tigers wide receiver Hunter Renfrow (13) during the second quarter during the 2016 CFP semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Republic via USA TODAY Sports
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Here is a look at the strengths, weaknesses, and an overall 2017 NFL Draft day prediction for safety Malik Hooker out of Ohio State.

Malik Hooker may be the best safety in the 2017 NFL Draft.  Hooker was a two-sport star in high school and could’ve played basketball in college.  He was made all-state in only his second season of playing football.

He redshirted in 2014, and he had limited playing time in 2015.  Then, in 2016, he broke out.  He had 74 tackles (5.5 for loss and .5 sacks), four passes defended, and seven interceptions (three touchdowns).

STRENGTHS

When it comes to playing in space, Hooker takes his basketball traits to the gridiron.  His speed is average, but he makes up for it by playing with instincts.

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He’s always watching the quarterback’s eyes.  Hooker processes things quickly and is decisive in his decision-making.

He can play robber or high safety.  His constant activity in the defensive backfield gives him the ability to find the best position to break up the pass or force a turnover.  He will not often take a false step.  Hooker can also disguise coverage and get back into position quickly.

WEAKNESSES

He is very raw and lacks experience.  Hooker has only played four years of football between New Castle High School and Ohio State.

His inexperience shows up in the running game more than the passing game.  He can be slow to the football on the run and takes poor angles. Hooker would rather go low to tackle, and that could lead to missed tackles, which he had 17 in 2016.  Hooker is also an arm tackler.

He guesses sometimes rather than reading, and that will get exploited.  When playing man, Hooker will tend to grab tight ends and slot receivers at the top of their routes.

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

MUST READ: Tight End O.J. Howard 2017 NFL Draft Profile

DRAFT DAY PREDICTION

His skills outweigh his weaknesses at this point.  Even though his lack of experience will show early, he has the skills to make it as a starter for years to come.  Hooker will be a first round draft pick.

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