Mike Williams and Malik Hooker will have a chance to face off for the first time in the NFL, just three years removed from being taken in the same draft…
Wide receiver Mike Williams and safety Malik Hooker have undergone a similar start to their careers since entering the league in the 2017 NFL Draft. Both were first-round selections by AFC teams, both endured injury-plagued rookie seasons, and both bounced back in their sophomore campaigns. In the first week of the 2019 regular season, both will have a chance to match up with one another for the first time in their young NFL careers.
- Mike Williams: 43 receptions, 664 yards, 10 receiving touchdowns, 28 rushing yards, one rushing touchdown
- Malik Hooker: 44 total tackles, one fumble recovery, two interceptions, four passes defended
What Mike Williams brings:
Williams looked much like his dominant collegiate self in 2018, making a number of highlight-reel touchdown catches on a consistent basis. His 11 total touchdowns led all receivers, and his 16 games played were the highest of his (short) career. Williams was a clutch receiver in college (see: Alabama vs Clemson), and he brought some of that in the Chargers’ biggest regular season game:
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) December 14, 2018
What Malik Hooker brings:
Hooker, like Williams, missed the majority of his rookie season due to injuries. His torn ACL and MCL kept him sidelined in 2017, and a hip and foot injury forced him to miss three games in 2018.
However, when on the field, Hooker is one of the Indianapolis Colts’ best defensive players. His range is incredible, and he will make quarterbacks pay for their deep ball:
Malik Hooker showing that range once again!pic.twitter.com/BuyKC2Zs6r
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) October 14, 2018
What makes this the best matchup of Week 1:
It’s not that either will be frequently matched up one-on-one across from one another, but rather the storyline that accompanies them. In 2017, the Chargers were frequently projected to take a safety with their first-round selection, which was the seventh overall pick. With Jamal Adams going to the New York Jets right before the Chargers, it was likely the team was looking at two players: Hooker and Williams. The team opted to go with the latter, and the Colts would take Hooker eight picks later. Now, the two have a chance to face off for a “Battle of the 2017 Draft Class” clash, where Chargers fans can see Williams further justify his selection at No. 7 over a safety like Hooker.