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2017 NFL Draft Prospect Profile: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

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Could the Giants add another defensive back in the draft?

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Ohio State v Clemson Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

What do you make of Ohio State’s Malik Hooker? In just one year he went from an unknown backup to arguably the top safety in the draft.

Safety is a position that is undervalued when compared to the cornerback position, but a good free safety can be absolutely transformative for a defense. Without one, the defense is constrained and vulnerable to deep passes. With one, they are more free to blitz, have an easier time generating turnovers, and less susceptible to the vertical passing game. While the New York Giants already have Darian Thompson and the pleasant surprise of Andrew Adams, it won’t hurt to take a look at the Ohio State product and see what all the excitement is about.

Measurables

Height - 6 feet, 2 inches (listed)

Weight - 205 (listed)

40 Time - 4.50 (projected - injured)

Pros

  • Rangy free safety. True center fielder who can cover a huge amount of field.
  • Great closing speed
  • Quick to drop into coverage, disguising coverage at the snap
  • Good instincts and flows to the ball well, plays with his eyes in the backfield
  • Willing to come down in run support
  • Showed great ball skills in 2016. Seven interceptions, four pass breakups

Cons

  • Inexperienced. Only one year of production at Ohio State
  • Not the surest tackler, prefers to shoulder check rather than wrap up
  • Will miss the NFL Scouting Combine after off-season labrum and hernia surgeries. NFL teams will want to inspect his medicals.

Does He Fit With The Giants?

Yes, he does.

A player like Malik Hooker would make an excellent complement to Landon Collins.

The problem is that Hooker is unlikely to slip to 23rd overall, and the Giants already have a similarly productive ballhawking safety in Darian Thompson.

Prospect Video

Big Board Rankings

Big Blue View - N/A

Mocking The Draft - N/A

CBS Sports - 4th overall

Draft Countdown - 8th overall

Draft Tek - 7th overall

Final Thoughts

This is an excellent year for defensive backs, and the battle at the top of the depth chart is going to be a fascinating one. On one hand, LSU’s Jamal Adams is versatile enough to effectively play three positions for just about any defense (free safety, strong safety, or even slot corner). On the other hand, Malik Hooker is a true centerfielding free safety in the mold of Ed Reed or Earl Thomas. However, he has only been a player on the national stage for just one year.

How the NFL rates his potential upside against just one year of production will go a long way to determine where he is ultimately drafted.