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NFL Draft Grades 2017: Colts earn very high grades for selection of Malik Hooker

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NCAA Football: Ohio State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, the Indianapolis Colts selected Ohio State safety Malik Hooker in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

The Colts were thrilled about it, with both Chuck Pagano and Chris Ballard raving about Hooker’s talent last night and sharing that they didn’t think Hooker would still be available when the Colts picked. But he was, so the Colts didn’t have any hesitation taking a guy who was “very high” on their draft board. They loved the pick, but they weren’t alone.

A common exercise almost immediately after the draft is grades for each pick, which basically helps people understand what the feeling is about the pick. The Colts earned very high praise for their selection of Hooker when it comes to the draft grades this morning.

First, let’s take a look at what grade you gave the pick. In our poll last night, 59% of voters graded the pick as an A for the Colts:

So it seems Colts fans, for the most part, really liked this pick, and so did people in the media. Let’s take a look at what others had to say about the pick.

NFL.com’s Chad Reuter gave the Colts an A, writing:

The Colts got the rangiest safety prospect since Earl Thomas. They got very good value at No. 15 at a major position of need. It's a big win for the Colts' defense.

Sports Illustrated’s Chris Burke also gave the pick an A:

Again, with teams crawling over themselves to land offensive weapons in the early picks, there were defensive players available mid-Round 1 that no one thought would be there: Reuben Foster, Jonathan Allen and, of course, Hooker. The Ohio State safety should slot right in as the Colts’ free safety, which prevents Indianapolis from having to piece together that spot—Darius Butler was a possible CB-to-S mover. Hooker’s past health issues probably didn’t hurt him as much in Round 1 as his lack of physicality did (and the huge run on skill positions). The Colts don’t need him to be a thumper, just to keep doing what he did for Ohio State vs. the pass.

Bleacher Report’s Mike Tanier gave the pick a B+. Here’s part of his write-up:

The fact that Hooker roams the deep middle like Earl Thomas, diagnosing route combinations and gliding into position to break up passes, is remarkable for such an inexperienced defender. Either Hooker is a savant or a one-year wonder who benefited from playing on a secondary loaded with early-round NFL picks.

I lean toward the "savant," with the caveat that Hooker is nowhere near as physical as Thomas, and offseason hip and hernia surgeries may set back the start of his NFL career. Hooker may strictly be a deep safety in a league that prefers all-purpose players at the position.

CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco gave the Colts an A for the pick:

Chuck Pagano just might have gotten his next Ed Reed. The kid has great range in the middle of the field.

SB Nation’s Dan Kadar loved the pick, giving it an A+.

From a value standpoint and a need standpoint, this pick grades off the chart. Hooker can be a superstar thanks to his ability to read a quarterback and get a jump on the ball. The Colts don’t have a player who can do what Hooker can do. If he can get a little bit better as a tackler and stay healthy, the Colts have a Pro Bowl player with Hooker.

Yahoo Sports’ Eric Edholm gave the pick an A:

Another first-year general manager had a dream scenario unfold. Chris Ballard came from the Chiefs to rebuild this Colts roster, and he got a whopper of a first pick with his name attached. Hooker is a top-5 talent, and the only concerns were his hernia surgery and one year of starting in the country’s most talented secondary the past few seasons. In five years, Hooker could be the best center fielder in the game. He’s that special.

So of all of these draft grades that we’ve looked at, the lowest one for the Colts’ selection of Malik Hooker is a B+. I’d say that’s pretty good. Perhaps seeing the wide praise will help you understand even more so why the Colts were so excited to be able to get Hooker.

One of the main similarities you’ll see with a lot of these write-ups is that, 1) Hooker wasn’t expected to fall to 15, and 2) he’s a very good safety with tremendous cover skills. For a team that desperately needed defensive playmakers, Hooker is a very welcome addition.