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NFL analysts think Malik Hooker will have an immediate impact on the Colts’ defense

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

The Indianapolis Colts seem to have gotten a steal in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft when they selected Ohio State safety Malik Hooker, and that pick was widely praised at the time.

Now, as analysts recap the draft and project how players will fare in the NFL, it seems that people expect Hooker to have an immediate impact on Indy’s defense.

Former NFL GM and current NFL Media analyst Charley Casserly included Malik Hooker on his projection of the first-team all-rookie defense for 2017.

In the above video, Casserly explains of Hooker: “And then here we go at safety. This is Mr. Centerfield. Watch the range on Malik Hooker with the Indianapolis Colts now - you can see he’s with Ohio State (in college) but he’s with the Colts now. So tremendous range, very good ball skills, and again, watch him get down field here into the center field area and then break back to make the interception. This guy, again, excellent ball skills, range, instincts that you want, in a sense what you want from a center fielder, the Colts got a good one with Malik Hooker.”

Another person who likes Hooker’s chances of contributing right away is Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, who ranked Miller third on his list of top rookie of the year candidates. What’s more, Hooker is the top defender on Miller’s list, behind only Leonard Fournette and Deshaun Watson.

Miller’s comments in the above video say: “Hooker’s Ed Reed-like ball skills in the Colts defense will give him big INT opportunities.”

Whether it’s rookie of the year discussion or first-team all-rookie, either way there’s high expectations for Malik Hooker with the Colts in 2017. Part of that is due to need: Hooker is stepping into a situation where he’ll start from day one and where playmaking ability is desperately lacking, so he’ll have a chance to stand out even more when compared to the other talent defensively. But part of it is also about Hooker’s abilities, as he is tremendous in coverage with very good instincts and ball skills. He has some room to improve, but he’s already shown that he can be very good in coverage.

Hopefully in 2017 he can show that in a big way for the Colts on the field, something many expect him to do.