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PFF lists Malik Hooker as the top Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate for 2017

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I think it’s becoming quite clear by now that a lot of people like the Colts’ first round selection of Malik Hooker.

Last week, we looked at the fact that people around the league liked the pick, while analysts think he could have an immediate impact. Today, we can add Pro Football Focus to the list, as PFF’s Sam Monson listed Hooker as the top candidate for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 2017.

Interceptions earn you notoriety in the secondary and though they may not always correlate to elite play, they get you noticed come awards time. Hooker has the best ball skills of any safety to come along in years, and has the ability to make an Earl Thomas-style of impact in the Indianapolis secondary. Hooker has a highlight-reel tape of some of the most astonishing interceptions in college football last season and his biggest problem (missed tackles – 13 of them in 2016) is something that tends to get swept under the carpet a little when evaluating play.

PFF also displayed a graphic that mentioned that Hooker has the third-best passer rating against in 2016, as opposing passers had just a 41.4 rating when targeting Hooker.

It is correct to say that interceptions can be a huge factor in these yearly awards, just like sacks can be. Basically, people are looking for players who flash both on the field and on the stat sheet, and that’s another reason why Hooker should be considered a top candidate for the award. He’s a good player, and he’s especially terrific in coverage. He was a playmaker last year at Ohio State, and so it’s reasonable to think that he can do the same as a rookie with the Colts. If he’s able to force a number of turnovers, you have to think that he’ll be among the frontrunners for the DPOY award all year long.

Right now there’s a lot of hype about Malik Hooker, and much of it is deserved. He is indeed very good in coverage, and he should make an immediate impact on a Colts defense desperate for playmakers. Perhaps he’ll just get some hardware to show for it after the season. It’s far too early for talk about who will win the 2017 awards, yes, but it’s the offseason, so why not?