Mock season is here, and thankfully it didn’t start in November for the Redskins for a 2nd year in a row. ESPN’s Todd McShay released his first mock for the 2017 draft a month ago, and gave Washington USC WR JuJu Smith-Schuster. That did not go over too well with Redskins fans who need to see a commitment to improving a defense whose coordinator was fired following the season.
Enter Mel Kiper, Jr’s pick for Washington, Ohio State safety Malik Hooker. The Redskins have been putting band-aids on the safety position, bringing in veterans on their last stint in the NFL, drafting players who didn’t work out, or just switching CBs when you’re out of options. It’s been a mess, and the team needs to seriously address this spot in 2017.
**Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State
Hooker was the best center-field-type safety I saw this season -- he has incredible speed and range and was all over the field for the Buckeyes. He had seven interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns. Washington could also have a need at wide receiver, even after taking Josh Doctson in the first round last year. Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson are both free agents. Keep an eye on a pass-rusher here, too.
Malik Hooker is Daniel Jeremiah’s #2 prospect in his Top 50 released on Tuesday
Hooker is a tall, rangy safety prospect with incredible instincts. He usually lines up as the high safety and he has an uncanny ability to anticipate throws, drive on the ball, and finish. He is ultra-fluid in his change of direction and has the ability to match up with tight ends in man coverage. He has the best ball skills of any safety I've ever evaluated in college. He is also a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Against the run, he is quick to key, read and fill the alley. He does have some fly-by missed tackles, but overall he's reliable in this area. Hooker has the potential to be one of the league's best safeties very early in his NFL career.
NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks is also high on Hooker.
It's hard to find a pure centerfielder with speed, athleticism, ball skills and tackling ability in the college game. That's why Hooker is a hot commodity in the scouting circles as an Ed Reed-like safety with a penchant for delivering big plays between the hashes. He finished the regular season with seven interceptions, including three pick-sixes, while exhibiting terrific range and anticipation as a deep middle defender. With several teams in need of a turnover machine in the middle of the field, Hooker wisely put his services up for auction in the 2017 draft.
Malik Hooker Highlights