Former Colts First-Round Pick Visited Steelers: Report

Malik Hooker

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images Malik Hooker of the Indianapolis Colts during a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 3, 2019.

Former Indianapolis Colts first-round pick Malik Hooker spent Thursday visiting with the Pittsburgh Steelers, this according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Hooker, 25, entered the NFL in 2017, when the Colts drafted him No. 15 overall out of Ohio State. He has appeared in 36 games at free safety, responsible for 124 total tackles (81 solo), along with seven interceptions, 11 passes defensed and two fumble recoveries.

Yet Hooker has never played 16 games in a season, maxing out at 14 starts in 2018.

Last year he appeared in just two games before being placed on injured reserve with a torn Achilles, which he suffered during his team’s Week 2 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. He also missed nine games during his rookie year when he suffered a torn ACL and MCL during an October loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The injuries help explain why the Colts declined to pick up the fifth-year option on Hooker’s contract.


Pittsburgh’s Safety Depth

At the moment, the Steelers probably don’t have a clear picture of who will serve in reserve roles behind starting strong safety Terrell Edmunds and starting free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, the latter of whom is coming off a second consecutive first-team All-Pro season. In the mix for backup positions are 2020 sixth-round pick Antoine Brooks Jr., rookie seventh-round pick Tre Norwood, and rookie undrafted free agents Donovan Stiner (Florida) and Lamont Wade (Penn State).

The Steelers also have veteran defensive back Arthur Maulet, who played cornerback for the New York Jets in 2019 and safety in 2020. Last but not least, there’s Miles Killebrew, a former fourth-round pick of the Detroit Lions who was signed for his ability to excel on special teams.


Hooker Has Visited at Least 2 Other Teams

As noted by Rapoport (above), Hooker has also had visits with the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins, so the Steelers may have competition if they want to sign him.

Hooker has been viewed as an especially good fit for the Cowboys.

“Injuries have kept Hooker from truly breaking out at any point across his first four years in the NFL, but he has been effective when healthy,” notes Pro Football Focus (PFF). “Hooker earned a career-high 79.2 PFF grade in his healthiest year back in 2018 and has the kind of range necessary to be a playmaking single-high safety.”

All of the above suggests that the Steelers would be looking at Hooker as a backup for Minkah Fitzpatrick. In late April, Pittsburgh exercised its fifth-year option on Fitzpatrick’s contract, binding him to the team through at least 2022. In 2021, Fitzpatrick will earn a salary of $2,722,878; in 2022 he is scheduled to earn $10.612 million.

Or Pittsburgh could be thinking of using Hooker as its single-high safety, freeing up Fitzpatrick to play closer to the line of scrimmage in hopes of maximining his exceptional instincts and playmaking skills.

The latest Steelers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Steelers newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Steelers!

Follow the Heavy on Steelers Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!


Also Read:
Brother of Steelers’ Stephon Tuitt Killed in ‘Tragic’ Accident: Police


Comment Here
Subscribe
Notify of
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x