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Report: Colts Have Made Starting Safety Malik Hooker Available via Trade

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Carolina Panthers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

According to The Athletic’s Michael Lombardi, Indianapolis Colts starting safety Malik Hooker is among the players that he’s heard is available via trade ahead of the NFL Draft:

NFL Reporter Dov Kleiman also issued a similar report regarding Hooker and the Colts.

As the 2017 first round pick of the Colts, the 24 year old safety has shown flashes of his enormous potential coming out of Ohio State—as a bonafide ballhawk at times.

However, he has struggled with consistency in coverage (sometimes ending up in no-man’s land) and has been plagued a bit by injuries—having never started a full 16 games in a season for the Colts yet.

Hooker had 51 tackles, 3 passes defensed, and 2 interceptions in 13 starts during 2019.

Per Pro Football Focus (subscription), Hooker was their 54th best rated safety last season with a +69.5 grade overall.

The Colts have already somewhat shown their lack of full confidence in Hooker, as the team is still contemplating whether it plans on picking up his 5th-year option for 2021. General manager Chris Ballard has until May 4th to do so.

As Ballard has already hinted at his desire to acquire more draft picks, the Colts could look to deal Hooker for an additional draft pick this week.

The Colts may very well want to use that draft pick on another young safety, who better executes their defensive system and scheme however—if not one of their other picks.

Hooker is a rangy, sometimes freelancing ‘centerfield’ safety that may have been a better defensive fit in former head coach Chuck Pagano’s 3-4 Baltimore Ravens based defense as its ‘Ed Reed’ than he is in the Colts current ‘Cover 2’ derivative—which requires more discipline.

Right now, the Colts have Khari Willis as the other projected starting safety—as veteran Clayton Geathers isn’t expected to return as a free agent.

One thing is for sure, this week could be a wild one with the virtual NFL Draft, and a lot of key players reportedly available just like Hooker.


Update (12:20 PM EST): For what it’s worth, per The Athletic’s Stephen Holder, the Colts have received trade calls from other teams on Hooker, but haven’t been the one actually initiating those talks.

Now, whether that’s just team ‘damage control’ or the actual truth, remains to be seen: