Chargers Draft

Los Angeles Chargers Draft Prospect Profile: Malik Hooker

Mar 5, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes free safety Malik Hooker speaks to the media during the 2017 combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 5, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes free safety Malik Hooker speaks to the media during the 2017 combine at Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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The Los Angeles Chargers hold the No. 7 pick in the first round of the NFL draft, and it’s possible that the team could be looking for a new safety to help the defense take the next step.

Ohio State’s Malik Hooker has been a popular pick in many mock drafts that have made the rounds, including the latest from Bucky Brooks of NFL.com.

Hooker and Jamal Adams from LSU are arguably the top two defensive backs in this entire draft, so it would be a feather in the Chargers’ proverbial cap to land him. Could the team use a wide receiver or offensive lineman in this draft? Sure, but I’ll be taking a closer look at Hooker here.

College Stats

Games Played: 19

Tackles: 84

Sacks: 0.5

Interceptions: 7

Hooker played in just two seasons at Ohio State, but his 2016 campaign was nothing short of stellar. He led the Big 10 with seven interceptions and returned three of those for a touchdown.

He has amazing ball skills and is quite dangerous with the ball in his hands. He also exhibits terrific athleticism as evidenced by the fact that he was also a high-level basketball player in high school.

His awareness and reactionary skills are what will draw most teams to him and ultimately be the reason he becomes a high pick in this draft. What he lacks in experience he makes up for in sheer play-making ability.

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He started the 2016 season with two interceptions in the season opener against Bowling Green, but he had several big games. He returned interceptions for touchdowns against Nebraska and Michigan while also recording a 14-tackle performance against Northwestern.

He also had seven tackles and an interception in the national semi-final against Clemson.

On the flip side, Hooker doesn’t come without concerns. Following the season, he had hip surgery as well as a surgery to repair a double sports hernia. As a result, he didn’t take part in drills at the annual scouting combine. He told Jeff Legwold of ESPN that his recovery is going well.

On top of that, Hooker left school following his sophomore season. He lacks experience and will need to improve as a tackler.

Highlights

If you want to see some highlights from 2016, click below. They are quite impressive. At about the 3:40 mark of the video, you can hear the game’s commentator calling Hooker a “bigger Ed Reed”. Reed will likely be recognized with a selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his career achievements, so that’s pretty high praise.

Should the Chargers Draft Him?

The recent injuries are a bit concerning, but not enough to pass on him. If you want to say that the Chargers should take a wide receiver like Mike Williams or even an edge rusher like Solomon Thomas if they are available at No. 7, I’m not going to argue.

That said, Hooker could be one of the best safeties to enter the draft in many years. It’s an area the team needs to upgrade and he could be the cornerstone of the team’s secondary for the next decade, much the way Eric Weddle was.

Hooker would be a great pick in the first round, one that most Chargers fans should be really happy about if it were to come to fruition.

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