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NFL executives really like the Colts’ selection of Malik Hooker

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

There’s a lot to like about the Colts’ first round pick last weekend, as they selected Ohio State safety Malik Hooker.

The pick received good reviews from fans and media alike, and it turns out that NFL teams thought the same. ESPN’s Mike Sando recently spoke with a number of executives, personnel guys, and coaches about each team’s draft, and it’s clear that people around the league liked what Chris Ballard did in the first round too. Here’s Sando’s write-up:

All five personnel evaluators polled for a pre-draft column had Malik Hooker going somewhere in the top 10. The Colts got him 15th overall, without trading up.

"That is a great pick, and we would have taken him," an exec from a team picking lower than the Colts said. "He is going to be a good one. Chris Ballard is doing a nice job there."

Why the fall for Hooker? He started only one season at Ohio State and has had surgeries for his hip and groin.

"Hooker plays center field, and that is all he plays," an evaluator said. "Those other safeties are more versatile, and it is a deep safety draft. I did talk to a secondary coach I know and trust. He said the guy is unbelievable."

These comments reaffirm that two things we have heard from others are also thought to be true from people within the NFL: that Hooker was a top-ten prospect and that Hooker is a tremendous centerfielder.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of people in the NFL having interest in Hooker, however, as Browns coach Hue Jackson wanted to select Hooker with the 12th pick, though Cleveland ultimately traded down.

Hooker was only a one-year starter at Ohio State, but he made the most of that season. He played in 13 games last year and recorded 74 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, seven picks, and four passes defensed. He was a playmaker and showed off the ball skills and instincts that made him so intriguing to Chris Ballard in the first place. Ballard emphasises defensive backs who can catch, and that’s Malik Hooker. He’s a true centerfielder who can have a huge impact in coverage right away, and that’s what the Colts will be counting on him to do. There have been a ton of Ed Reed comparisons, and while that’s getting way ahead of ourselves that does at least give you an idea of the perception about Hooker.

If you’re a fan of a team, what you never want to hear after the draft is that others around the league think you reached for a player. What you love to hear, however, is that others think you got a steal. And with all five executives that Sando talked with saying that Hooker was a top-ten prospect, getting him at number 15 keeps looking better and better.