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Colts safety Malik Hooker will miss OTAs but should be ready for training camp

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NCAA Football: Nebraska at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

There are always a lot of injury questions regarding prospects in the NFL Draft each year, with teams having to weigh how serious a player’s injury is and whether it’s worth taking a risk on that player.

Of course, there’s a flip side to all of that: it can sometimes mean that a team can get a player that they otherwise would have never had a chance to. That could be the situation we saw tonight with the Colts selecting Ohio State safety Malik Hooker in the first round.

Hooker this offseason underwent surgeries for, among other things, a hip injury. NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported last week that Hooker’s medical Combine re-check “went as well as it could.”

The Colts are aware of Hooker’s injuries and it means that he won’t be available until training camp, but they’re fine with that when compared to the talent they’re getting in their new safety.

“He’s going to be fine,” Chuck Pagano said tonight. “It won’t be until camp probably, [but] we knew that. But again, we’ve exhausted every resource that we’ve had. Our doctors and trainers have done a phenomenal job communicating with their people and there was no hesitation with the hip and groin surgery that he went through. So he’ll be fine.”

It will of course be unfortunate for the Colts’ first round pick to miss the offseason program on-the-field, but he’ll still be able to get acclimated to the defensive system. The Colts seem convinced that Hooker will be healthy and ready to go by training camp, and if that’s the case he has the talent to make waiting a few months worth it.

“No, you’d love to have him get every rep that [he] possibly can,” Pagano said. “The rookie class can start on the 15th of May this year, so essentially he’s going to miss those ten OTAs and two mini-camps, so there’s some snaps there, there’s a bunch of reps that you need physically to go through. It’s one thing [for] visual learners, seeing it in the classroom, watching it on film, walking through, and then playing. You’ve got to play. This guy, if you look at redshirt in ‘14, backup in ‘15, and then go get seven interceptions this year, he’s a young guy and he’s got a lot of ball left in him, so he’ll be fine. He’s just one of those guys that you stick him in center field, see ball, get ball, let’s not make it any harder than that.”

Hooker, who was a one-year starter at Ohio State, has a lot of room to grow and keep developing. He’s a playmaking safety who can generate turnovers and step in as a starter right away for the Colts. Talent-wise, he was arguably a top ten player in this year’s draft. So the Colts don’t seem too concerned about Hooker possibly missing OTAs when considering the talent level of the player they added to their defense.

“So, look, he had the injury,” GM Chris Ballard said. “And long-term prognosis is really good. We’re going to do the right thing by the kid, let him get healthy, and he should be ready for camp hopefully.”