After all, both Ballard and head coach Chuck Pagano said Hooker was at the top of their board when they went on the clock, and that it was almost unbelievable how such a talented safety who was considered a Top-10 prospect fell into their laps in the middle of the first round.
So credit still goes to the Colts for not only going with their gut, but making the obvious move that should provide an instant impact on their rebuilt defense.
Fox Sports’ Cameron DaSilva likely agrees with this assessment. He recently wrote a piece, “Ranking the 11 best moves of the NFL offseason,” in which all moves — not just picks made in this year’s draft — were under the microscope. That includes draft picks, free agency signings, trades and coaching and front office changes.
Coming in at No. 4? The Colts’ selection of Hooker.
You can read the entire piece by clicking here, but here’s what DaSilva wrote about that move by Indy:
4. The Colts ending Malik Hooker’s draft-night slide
Hooker drew comparisons to everyone from Ed Reed to Earl Thomas leading up to the draft, which is about as high of praise as a free safety can get. Despite being viewed as a lock to go in the top 10, Hooker fell all the way to the Colts at No. 15. His drop on draft night is still difficult to explain because of the impact he’s going to have right away. Perhaps it’s because of his shoulder injuries, or maybe teams didn’t like his tackling technique.
Regardless of the reason for his slide in the first round, the Colts got a steal by landing him at 15. It not only fills a huge need at free safety, but Hooker is a playmaker who can create turnovers – something the Colts struggled with in recent years.
While some might point to Hooker’s injuries or his tackling as a reason for his “slide,” it’s hard to ignore the fact that three different teams also traded up to take quarterbacks ahead of Hooker, which is unprecedented by NFL Draft standards.
Other teams that picked ahead of the Colts also seemed content with picking based on needs, particularly on the offensive side of the ball; the Jacksonville Jaguars took running back Leonard Fournette at No. 4, the Tennessee Titans took wide receiver Corey Davis at No. 5, the Los Angeles Chargers took wide receiver Mike Williams at No. 7 and the Carolina Panthers took running back Christian McCaffery at No. 8. All of these selections pushed Hooker down the line past where he was expected to land.
And what about those other issues? Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and defensive coordinator Ted Monachino addressed them just last week.
In regards to Hooker’s injury history, where is your comfort level at?
Pagano: “He’s going to be fine. It won’t be until camp, probably. We knew that. But again, we’ve exhausted every resource that we’ve had. Our doctors and trainers have done a phenomenal job in communicating with their people. There was no hesitation, even with the hip and groin surgery that he went through. He’ll be fine.”
What is the steepest learning curve for Hooker?
Monachino: “I think that the learning curve will be in the run fits. It probably will be something that he’ll have to spend a little extra time with Greg (Williams) and Jeff (Popovich) on. I think that some of the things that we will ask him to do occasionally, the kid is so dominant in the deep parts of the field it’s hard to take him out of there. It’s not like we’re going to spend a lot of time teaching him to rush the passer and blitz because that’s silly. You have your best player do what he does. There will be some learning there. I think there is conceptually some things that pro defense is different than college defense and he’s going to have to learn terminology, where he fits with other guys in coverage, route matches, some of those things. I think that will be the steepest part of the learning curve.”
For what it’s worth, three of the four AFC South Division teams were represented on DaSilva’s list, though the Colts’ selection of Hooker ranked above the other two.
“The Texans dumping Brock Osweiler” ranked No. 8, while the “Jaguars pairing A.J. Bouye with Jalen Ramsey” came in at No. 10.
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.