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Malik Hooker A Popular Preseason Pick For Defensive Rookie Of The Year

Posted Jun 6, 2017

Intro: The Indianapolis Colts selected Malik Hooker with the 15th overall pick with hopes of the Ohio State product making an immediate impact in their secondary. But many experts believe he’ll be the best defensive rookie in the entire league in 2017.

INDIANAPOLIS — It’s been 32 years since Indianapolis Colts linebacker Duane Bickett burst onto the scene and won the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.

Since that time, the Colts have certainly trotted out their fair share of talented defensive rookies, but perhaps none of them have possessed the exciting upside that is seen in Malik Hooker.

Indianapolis was ecstatic when Hooker — a projected Top 10 pick in many experts’ mock drafts — fell all the way to 15th overall in the first round of April’s NFL Draft, which is why one might imagine new general manager Chris Ballard called in his pick in record time.

In Hooker, the Colts have a player expected to make an immediate impact in the secondary, but also a youngster whose potential might not even reach its ceiling for a few seasons.

So just what exactly can fans expect out of the former Ohio State safety in his first season in Indy? To many league pundits, Hooker could end up being the best rookie on his side of the ball when the 2017 season is all said and done.

Take Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson, for example. Monson, in his piece, “The Top 2017 Rookie Of The Year Candidates,” listed Hooker at No. 1 among 2017 Defensive Rookie of the Year possibilities. Monson writes:

1. Malik Hooker, S, Indianapolis Colts

“Interceptions earn you notoriety in the secondary and though they may not always correlate to elite play, they get you noticed come awards time. Hooker has the best ball skills of any safety to come along in years, and has the ability to make an Earl Thomas-style of impact in the Indianapolis secondary. Hooker has a highlight-reel tape of some of the most astonishing interceptions in college football last season and his biggest problem (missed tackles – 13 of them in 2016) is something that tends to get swept under the carpet a little when evaluating play.”

PFF also notes that Hooker in 2016 had the No. 3 opposing passer rating in the entire NCAA, at 41.4. He was targeted 41 total times, allowed 23 receptions for 236 yards and a touchdown, but had seven interceptions.

NFL.com’s Chase Goodbread, meanwhile, also believes Hooker to be a top Defensive Rookie of the Year Candidate. The site’s College Football 24/7 writer, Goodbread ranked Hooker at No. 3 on his list, behind No. 1-overlal pick Myles Garrett and New York Jets safety Jamal Adams. He writes:

“Even with only one year as a college starter, Hooker showed NFL scouts why he's as much of a takeaway artist as the 2017 NFL Draft offered. Colts GM Chris Ballard saw that and more in the former Ohio State star, but his ability to create turnovers was paramount in the selection. As long as he's healthy (Hooker underwent offseason surgeries for a sports hernia and a hip injury), he should quickly become a ballhawking presence in the Colts' secondary.”

USA Today’s Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz also has Hooker ranked third on his list of potential Defensive Rookie of the Year candidates, behind Garrett and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Reuben Foster:

“The last safety to win defensive rookie of the year was Mark Carrier in 1990. In order to stand out among the defensive ends and linebackers, Hooker will have to tally a substantial number of interceptions. He hauled in seven last year at Ohio State and faces a friendly slate of subpar quarterbacks, but it will be hard for him to overcome history here.”

And, finally, ESPN’s Dan Graziano also rates Hooker high up on his list of Defensive Rookie of the Year hopefuls, placing him right behind Garrett in his piece “99 days out, the 99 people who will shape the NFL season:”

“The Colts need to stabilize things on the back end, and Hooker is the kind of playmaker who can quickly become a star if given the opportunity. Indianapolis is crying for a leader back there.”




The analysis from those producing content on Colts.com does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by Colts.com content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.
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