Draft Profile: Amani Hooker

By M3reKat |
Draft Profile: Amani Hooker

We're getting closer and closer to the desert. "What's the desert you may ask?" The desert is when there is no more football.

We're getting dangerously close, we've got 3 games left. (4 if you count the Pro Bowl?) After these games, the football landscape will turn to free agency and the combine. I for one, (and I can't stress this enough) HATE mock drafts. I find them uninteresting and simply informed guess' by people who have nothing to look forward to except the draft. HOWEVER, I do like one thing, watching football. I for one have no idea what the Colts are going to do on April 25th when they're on the clock with the 26th pick. But I do know that the Colts defense needs help on the backend, and an edge rusher or two, some defensive tackles would help too, and another three or four receivers. But even with one of the youngest rosters in the NFL they somehow managed to get to the divisional round of the playoffs. Imagine what this team will be doing when that talent develops...

Never the less, the Colts need help. And if there's one thing Chris Ballard has proven, he can find talent from everywhere. Over the next 4 months, I will be breaking down potential draft targets that the Colts COULD draft. (notice I didn't say will) With that here is the 1st of many profiles.

 

Amani Hooker: Defensive Back, University of Iowa

Related image

(photo via Hawkeye Sports)

Measurables: 6'0 210 Pounds

Career Statistics (per Sports Reference CFB): In 25 career games, Hooker totaled 125 tackles, 80 of them solos, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 6 interceptions, and 9 passes defended.

Honors: 2018 AP 2nd Team All-American, 1st Team All-Big 10, 2018, Tatum-Woodson Defensive Back of the Year Award Winner. 2018 Pro Football Focus 1st Team All American

Strengths: 

  • Versatility; Hooker switched positions in the 2018 season and played the star position. (Star is a hybrid outside linebacker-strong safety position in the Hawkeyes new 4-2-5 defense.) Hooker would routinely line up in the slot and cover receivers while in the same game take on 6'5 tight ends. Hooker also lined up at corner and free safety for the Hawks. He played his role well enough that as stated previously, Hooker was Pro Football Focus' 1st team All-American selection at flex. His ability to be a do-it-all player at Iowa was one of the ways he forced Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker to change his defense to combat the spread attacks used widely throughout college football.
  • Sure Hands; Hooker is an absolute Ball Hawk. He lead the nation with interceptions defending from the slot during the 2018 campaign. It's not just the interceptions and pass deflections but it's the returns. On Hookers 6 career interceptions, he averaged 15 yards per return. Hookers sure hands and knack for being at the right place at the right time make him dangerous when he has the ball in his hands.  
  • Tackling; Hooker never is one to shy away from contact. I went to multiple Iowa football games this year, and if there's one thing that stuck out about Hooker it's his sheer will at tackling. He hits like a freight train powered by a nuclear reactor whose conductor is late to his anniversary dinner with his wife. Hooker will at times duck his head but rarely misses. And when Hooker does miss he is relentless in his pursuit. There are guys who when they're down will quit. Hooker is not one of them. He often will slip with tackles but his eagerness and drive lead him to bring down ball carriers. The only comparison for his tackling style is a wolf bringing down prey that's 4 times its size. He can slip lineman and at the same time is strong enough to go through them if he has a full head of steam. Hooker loves to gang tackle. He often would bring down the pile when he would come screaming in on plays where it took multiple tacklers to bring down a ball carrier. His blue-collar work ethic would work well in Matt Eberflus' scheme.

Weaknesses;

  • Man Coverage; With the exception of goalline man, Hooker tends to struggle with man to man. While he is fine at guarding larger tight-ends and receivers, Hooker can get lost at times. He also will have a tendency to look back at the quarterback on long crossing routes and that's when he tends to lose receivers. While he wasn't asked to do it much when at the University of Iowa if he's drafted by a team with a heavy dose of man defense he'd probably struggle to make the roster.
  • Speed; By far the biggest difference from College to Pro football is that everyone is faster. Whether that be Shaq Griffin running a 4.38 forty as an inside linebacker or John Ross to have reportedly run a 4.2 as a receiver everyone is fast. Hooker does not have elite top end speed and it could hurt him. Particularly in zone coverage where he will have less time to defend down the field shots. While it won't kill him, he won't be a first-round pick.

Scheme Fit: With the skill set of Hooker I would likely put him at the strong safety position however he could theoretically play any position in the Colts defensive scheme. His time at Iowa running a heavy zone based cover 2 scheme the transition from Iowa to the NFL would be relatively easy if any transition from College ball to the NFL could be. With the recent injury history of Clayton Geathers and Mike Mitchell's contract ending Hooker would not only provide depth but sure tackling and nastiness that this defense needs to become elite.

Overall ProjectionHooker most definitely is not a first-round projection, however, could be a nice diamond in the rough for the Colts in the mid-rounds. If I were Chris Ballard I'd use the Colts 3rd round pick on Hooker due to the fact that this draft class isn't loaded on talent with defensive backs. 

Final Thoughts: Hooker is an absolute gamer. He might not wow with intangibles but when the pads go on he is an absolute stud. A ball-hawking safety who's just as comfortable making bone-crushing hits with the surgical precision of a Navy SEAL. He would make a difference for the Colts on special teams just as much as he would on defense and for that reason, the Colts should take a chance on the kid from Minneapolis who turned his only power-5 conference offer into the best defensive back in the Big Ten. 

And it's just an afterthought but it's not like the Colts have had much success drafting Iowa Haw- 

(2007 AP Defensive POTY and Iowa Hawkeye, Bob Sanders)

On second thought, maybe Iowa can produce some pretty good defensive backs...


Listen to The Brew


Your go-to source for original Indianapolis Colts analysis, bringing you up to game-time updates on game-days. Join hosts Aaron Coffey, Alec Usleaman, Alex Griffin, Trace Vaughn & several others as they give their honest and informed thoughts and opinions on the Colts, the NFL and other popular topics.



Comments


Widget is loading comments...