Malik Hooker Bouncing Back in 2021 with Vampire Fangs!

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Malik Hooker – wearer of a LOUDMOUTH mouthguard such as the 3D Chrome Beast White & Gold at his safety position – is a player of which much has always been expected. Hooker starred at New Castle (New Castle, PA) High School and he was highly ranked by the 247Sports Composite Rankings as a defensive back in the high school graduating class of 2014. The website – which takes the consensus rankings of all the major recruiting services on the web – had Hooker as a 3-star prospect, the No. 360 player in the country, the No. 33 athlete (he was a two-way player in high school so there were questions about his eventual college position, and the No. 9 player in Pennsylvania.

Hooker had offers from plenty of schools but he eventually chose to sign with Ohio State over finalists including Michigan, Arizona, and Navy. It would prove to be an outstanding choice as Hooker was incredibly successful with the Buckeyes. As with any major Football Bowl Subdivision program, it took Hooker some time to work his way into the lineup. He redshirted his first year at the school before playing and important role on the Buckeyes’ Special Teams unit and totaling 10 tackles in his first year of action in 2015.

It was in 2016 as a redshirt sophomore that Hooker broke through. He claimed the starting free safety role and never looked back from the first game of the season where he picked off a pair of passes. Hooker was named as a First Team All-Big Ten player at the end of that season and he was faced with a major choice when considering his draft standing in 2017 against the remaining two years of college eligibility he had. Hooker – who was a consensus first round prospect according to the analysts – decided that the risk of injury (plus his draft stock never being higher) was too much to pass up on and he chose to enter the 2017 NFL Draft.

Hooker attended the scouting combine in 2017 but was unable to participate in any drills because of hernia and labrum surgeries. Standing at 6-foot-1 and weighing 206 pounds, Hooker was seen as a prototype free safety for the modern NFL. A player that could sit in a deep zone, excel in man-to-man coverage, or come up and stop the run was a hot commodity and that is why the Indianapolis Colts spent the No. 15 overall pick on the Ohio State star. Spending a top 20 pick on a safety is rare, so it is fair to say that the Colts expected a difference maker in the defensive backfield with the selection.

Hooker – who will be a free agent this year after the Colts declined his fifth year contract extension – will be battling back this offseason from an Achilles tendon tear that ended his 2020 season in September. Injuries have largely been the story ok Hooker’s career in the NFL so far, with a torn ACL/MCL combo ending his rookie campaign after seven games, a foot injury sidelining the playmaker for a Division Round playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018, and an injury limiting Hooker to 13 of the 16 games in 2019.

When healthy, Hooker- who is still just 24-years-old – has a proven history of making an impact. Despite suiting up for just 36 games in four seasons, he has seven interceptions. He also recorded almost 100 tackles over his two healthiest seasons and there is no reason to think given the correct rehab that he won’t be able to replicate those numbers for the next four or five years. Pro Football Focus – the site that is pretty much the NFL Bible – listed Hooker as the most underrated free agent as a safety and wherever Hooker plays ball in 2021, that team will be better off for it.