The Mysterious Case of Malik Hooker

By: Zach Hernandez (@Zachhernan)

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What do we make of the star athlete out of Ohio State University that is Malik Hooker? The man is a certified stud, an excellent athlete, & all-out playmaker. He always seems to find himself around the ball, which is a great trait to have a small a safety.

Today, we’ll breakdown Malik Hooker. I will be using the games: PSU, Wisconsin, Northwestern, & Michigan.( Will upload GIFs as soon as I learn how to do that exactly!)
First of all, Hooker had a lot of missed tackles. 19 on the season to be exact. He is a very hard hitter, however that type of player also comes with that real hit or miss risk factor. Hooker often goes for the big hit rather than the forsure tackle. While sometimes that makes great real for highlight tapes, it also can leave the defender in a bad position if that brutal hit doesn’t land. He is an all or nothing type of player. Has some bad habits that might be hard to shake once cemented in his mind. Hookers run game D can improve in the future, but currently not one his strengths.
Second of all, how is he in coverage? Well in Zone coverage -in which Hooker played in Ohio States D – mainly in the single high safety, center field position. This forced him to produce right away. Hooker also would play the Robber role where he would be solely responsible for anything over the middle of the field. Whether it was single-high or the robber role, he excelled.

Hooker is able back pedal covering lots of ground. He is great at baiting QBs with his footwork and eyes

Hooker had an INT vs Clemson which shows his range. He damn well covered the entire field! He has great range, however it is not consistent. Luckily for Malik, his athleticism alone makes him an elite defensive back and that is what is earning him gaudy comparisons like Sean Taylor and Earl Thomas III.

Hooker tends to get exposed quite a bit in cover 2 split safeties – 2 high. For some weird reason – it seems the less he has to do on the field, the less confidence he appears to have in his game. Hooker sometimes jumps routes incorrectly trying to make a play on the ball. He needs to improve eye discipline. He often gets caught underneath in No-Man’s-Land -between tthe QB running towards the line of scrimmage & WR running his route. Hooker has been caught frozen & did not choose either one to tackle. Malik needs to continue to improve on his decisiveness.
Hooker did not log that many reps in man coverage in this Ohio State Defense. He shows great athleticism, being able to cover anyone whether it be NFL TEs or WRs. He sometimes gets a little grabby on routes, but overall comfortable in coverage.

11Touches
7INTs
4PBUs
3TDs
He is a natural-born playmaker. The ball always ends up in his hands. He had a 1 handed interception vs Bowling Green was a beauty. The guy just generates turnovers. He has top level skills at the position when it comes to playing the ball.
He has shown he has great range in the running game as well. He is just as speedy coming up to make a hit in the backfield as he is covering a WR. Hooker has an above average play recognition which constantly earns him high praise.

Hooker sometimes gets stuck with the single high safety label, but he has shown he can read the QB & excel at the robber role. A safety that covers the middle of the field then is able to drop back in man coverage is way more valuable than your stereotypical defender. These Hybrid Safety/Linebacker types are becoming a more and more norm in today’s NFL – I.E. Mark Barron, Deonne Buchanan, even the 49ers showed a little with Eric Reid & Jaquaski Tartt coming down in the box to play the Linebacker role.

Hooker does have some tackling concerns, as does any player going for the big hit instead of side tackle. However, the good outweigh the bad, and you gotta take the bad with the good especially in this case.

 

All in all,

  • Hell of an athlete.
  • Has all the tools.
  • Well-polished.
  • Some bad habits that need to be broken.
  • Needs lots of reps at next level and proper coaching to excel in the NFL.

 

Mistakes vs big plays. Which outweighs the other to you?

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3 comments

  1. I was looking for more info on Hooker! Good stuff! I think from what I’m hearing we’re going single high so he could be a could fit. We wouldn’t have to throw him to the wolves either as we do have some depth at Safety.

    Liked by 1 person

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