Home » Sports » Football » NFL draft: Malik Hooker selected 15th overall by the Indianapolis Colts

NFL draft: Malik Hooker selected 15th overall by the Indianapolis Colts

Please follow and like us:
Facebook
Google+
Twitter

Former OSU safety Malik Hooker (24) and redshirt freshman longsnapper Liam McCullough (49) high-five Buckeye fans after their 30-23 overtime victory over the Wisconsin Badgers on Oct. 15. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo Editor

The Indianapolis Colts selected former Ohio State safety Malik Hooker with the 15th pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

The former Buckeyes playmaking safety started just one year in scarlet and gray, but took full advantage of the opportunity in OSU’s defensive backfield, becoming an Associated Press first-team All-American.

Midway through the second quarter during his first start in college against Bowling Green on Sept. 3, 2016, Hooker sped from his position in the center of the field, leapt, and miraculously tipped the ball into his lap as he fell. One quarter later, he snagged his second errant Bowling Green pass of the day.

The next game, against Tulsa, he picked off a pass and returned it 26 yards for his first career touchdown. By the end of the season, Hooker had racked up a Big Ten-high seven interceptions, returning three for touchdowns, tying a school record.

The 6-foot-1-inch, 206-pound safety scored his final touchdown as a Buckeye — a 16-yard interception return — in the second quarter of OSU’s 30-27 double overtime win against Michigan. Only later did he reveal that he suffered injuries against the Wolverines necessitating hip labrum and sports hernia surgeries.

Due to the former OSU defensive back recovering from surgery, Hooker did not participate in drills at the NFL combine or join his teammates in drills at the Buckeyes’ pro day. Instead, he watched his former teammates, including cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley, participate in workouts from afar.

Despite the injuries suffered in OSU’s win against Michigan, he decided to play in the Fiesta Bowl against Clemson. Bright spots were hard to find in the Buckeyes’ scoreless performance, but Hooker did his best to keep his team in the game as he had his final interception in college during the second quarter.

At the combine, Hooker said he anticipates returning to the field for rookie camp with the Colts in July.

He was the second-highest ranked safety in the draft, behind former LSU safety Jamal Adams, according to NFL.com’s Mike Mayock and ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay. Among all 2017 NFL draft prospects, the former OSU safety was ranked 13th, 11th and 10th by Mayock, Kiper Jr. and McShay, respectively.

Entering the 2016 season as a first-year starter, the former three-star prospect from New Castle, Pennsylvania, had played racked up just 10 tackles in the 2015 season as a reserve after redshirting his first season in Columbus. After three years of development, Hooker was the second OSU player to hear his name called in the 2017 NFL draft after Marshon Lattimore was drafted with the 11th overall pick by the New Orleans Saints.

Hooker racked up 74 tackles during the 2016 season. His high of 14 tackles came during OSU’s 24-20 win over Northwestern.

The Colts last season were frequently victimized through the air last season, surrendering the sixth-most passing yards allowed (4200) and tied for the 10th-most passing touchdowns allowed (27). By adding Hooker, who was tied for third among Division I schools with seven interceptions and the most returned for a touchdown (three), the Colts are looking to improve their ball-hawking ability after they finished tied for second with the fewest interceptions in the NFL last season (eight).

Hooker’s likely debut as a pro will come on Sept. 10 when the Colts travel to Los Angeles to take on the Rams in the first week of the 2017 NFL season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.