Could Surgeries Help Malik Hooker Join the Dallas Cowboys? ⋆
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Could Surgeries Help Malik Hooker Join the Dallas Cowboys?

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NFL Draft

Could Surgeries Help Malik Hooker Join the Dallas Cowboys?

Could Surgeries Help Malik Hooker Join the Dallas Cowboys?

Malik Hooker, the elite safety prospect out of Ohio State, will reportedly be out 4-6 months as he recovers from hernia and shoulder surgeries. Could this affect his draft stock enough that he might be available to the Dallas Cowboys at the 28th pick?

Malik Hooker

Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Generally considered a top-five NFL Draft prospect and the best safety in the 2017 class, Malik Hooker had six interceptions during the regular season and one more in the Buckeyes’ playoff game. He has been compared to the likes of Ed Reed and Eric Berry, perhaps the two best safeties of recent NFL memory.

Malik Hooker will certainly miss the NFL Scouting Combine and Ohio State’s Pro Day with his surgical recovery. Missing these events usually hurts with NFL scouts and also allows new names to move up their boards.

If Malik Hooker is out the full six months, that would also knock him out of the rookie camps, OTAs, and perhaps even teams’ official training camps. He might be back for the preseason, but missing all that practice time could be a major deterrent for a team looking for a Day-One starter with their first-round pick.

Enter the Dallas Cowboys, who have a well-known history with taking advantage of these injury situations.

Jaylon Smith

LB Jaylon Smith at Notre Dame

 

 

 

Cowboys Draft History & Safety Concerns

Just last year, Dallas drafted linebacker Jaylon Smith despite the widely held assumption that he would not play at all in 2016. In recent drafts they have also taken guys like Sean Lee, DeMarco Murray, and Chaz Green whose stock fell due to health concerns.

The Cowboys not only like finding draft-day bargains but could also have a major need at safety. Last year’s starter Barry Church and primary backup J.J. Wilcox are both unrestricted free agents. Church turns 29 next week and Wilcox has never emerged as a consistent starting-quality player.

Byron Jones, the other starting safety, was a first-round pick in 2014. Dallas may not feel they need two first-round talents at safety, but Malik Hooker’s elite talent could be tough to turn down. They could consider playing at Byron Jones at cornerback again, as he did during his rookie season, to spread the talent out in the secondary.

If Dallas were to draft Malik Hooker then they may have to invest in a good insurance player. The Cowboys might be willing to let Jeff Heath start but he hasn’t proven what he can do with extended playing time. Kavon Frazier barely played during his rookie season last year and can’t be counted on yet. Dallas may want to add a low-priced veteran who could start if needed.

Malik Hooker

Would Malik Hooker’s elite potential be too much for the Cowboys to ignore?

Need vs Talent

While most would argue that a pass-rushing defensive end is what Dallas needs most from its first-round pick, the draft board doesn’t always comply. Passing up a potentially elite talent for the sake of filling your needs can be a mistake that haunts you for years after.

It remains to be seen how much Malik Hooker’s stock will fall from these health concerns. His situation is not as dire as Jaylon Smith or Myles Jack, who felt from top-five prospects to the early second round because of their knee issues. Hooker isn’t expected to miss his rookie year like Jaylon did, or has the long-term concerns that Jack does.

The Cowboys used last year’s first-round pick on another Buckeye. Ezekiel Elliott, who will almost certainly win the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award this Saturday, has already had an incredible impact on the organization. While they were teammates for two years at Ohio State, Malik Hooker was just a backup while Elliott was a shining star.

Things have certainly changed now. Malik Hooker is now as highly thought of as Elliott was coming out of college. If not for the surgeries then he would almost certainly be going in the top end of the draft, well out of the Cowboys’ reach.

That could still be the case, but a lot can happen over these next three months until the 2017 NFL Draft. Will Malik Hooker fall into the Cowboys’ range at the 28th pick? If so, would they take him in spite of some of their other critical needs?

Like so many things this time of year, we’ll have to wait and see.

Jess Haynie

Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

3 Comments
  • dallas4life65

    hate to see any player hurt for cowboys gain but would love to see a star on this kids helmet

  • dallas1966

    Malik and Byron would solidly the Cowboys secondary for years, would be equal to Cam Chancellor and Earl Thomas of the Seahawks. Would be another quality pick by Stephen and McClay.

    • Jess Haynie

      Would be pretty epic pair, for sure. Doesn’t look like Hooker’s dropping much in current mocks, but still a lot of time left.

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