So You’ve Drafted Amani Hooker: A New Owner’s Guide

By RossWB on April 26, 2019 at 6:40 pm
go get em amani
© Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
7 Comments

Congratulations! You've just made the wonderful decision to draft Amani Hooker! Like most new Amani Hooker owners, you're no doubt filled with questions about your new family member. We here at GIA will try our best to answer any questions you might have.

Well Hello, Tennessee Titans.  Congrats on taking Iowa safety Amani Hooker with the 116th pick in the Draft.

So what can a Titans fan expect from their brand new Amani?

WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT AMANI HOOKER? 

Hooker essentially invented a position in Iowa's defense last year: the "star" or "cash" player, which was a hybrid safety-linebacker role. He rode his success in that role to Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year honors and proved to be the linchpin of Iowa's defense. That defense, by the way, was very good: they ranked 11th in scoring defense (17.8 ppg), 7th in total defense (293.6 ypg), 6th in yards per play allowed (4.56 ypp), and 17th in pass defense (184.1 ypg). They also had 20 interceptions, which was the third-most in the nation. Hooker was the leader of that defense, helping make the defensive play calls and almost always being in the absolute right position to make a key play or grab a yardage- or touchdown-saving tackle. Hooker 

WHAT DID HE DO THAT'S SO GREAT? 

The main thing Hooker did on a consistent basis was be in the right place at the right time. One of the all-time best examples of this was the opening play of Iowa's 55-24 upset win over Ohio State in 2017: 

Hooker read QB J.T. Barrett's eyes, made a perfect jump on the ball, and took it back to the end zone for a touchdown that got the upset juices flowing in Iowa City. That was one of the flashiest plays Hooker made in his Iowa career, but he excelled at the smaller, quieter plays as well. He had so many tackles where he took the right angle or caught a guy from behind to save a big play or a touchdown. His strong tackling prowess extends to his ability to be a force around the line of scrimmage and contribute in run support as well. A big reason why Iowa was comfortable inventing the "cash" position (removing a traditional linebacker from the field) and transitioning away from their base 4-3 defense (which had been a staple for Kirk Ferentz's entire 20-year tenure) was because of Hooker's ability to tackle as well as a linebacker. He's also tremendous in zone coverage and reads routes well. 

STATS

YEAR TKL TFL SACKS PBU INT
2016 4 0 0 0 0
2017 56 0 0 2 2
2018 65 3.5 1.0 7 4

Hooker's stats certainly aren't eye-popping, although he improved steadily throughout his Iowa career. He broke into the starting lineup in 2017 and became a fixture of the defense in 2018. But ultimately Hooker was a bit of a "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts"-type player. The flashy stats might not be there, but he's a guy that was easy to appreciate when you watched the actual games and who was widely respected by his teammates and coaches (as well as other Big Ten coaches and media types, hence the Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year honors). 

HOW ARE HIS PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTES? 

Hooker was officially measured at 5'11" and 210 lbs, with 30 1/8" inch arms and 9 1/8" inch hands at the NFL Scouting Combine. His physical tools aren't off the charts, which is a big reason why he was still available in the XXX round. 

40 YD DASH BENCH PRESS VERT JUMP BROAD JUMP 3 CONE 20 YD SHUTTLE 60 YD SHUTTLE
4.48 seconds 14 reps 37.0 in 123.0 in 6.81 sec 4.1 sec 11.59 sec

His combine performance was good overall. He doesn't have elite acceleration, but his overall speed is good and his leaping ability is strong. 

HIGHLIGHTS

WHAT ABOUT THE BAD? 

Hooker's lack of elite acceleration could limit him somewhat. He's not going to be great in a defense that plays a lot of man coverage or that wants him to be a deep safety in a cover-1 defensive scheme. His versatility in college -- he was able to credibly play safety, slot cornerback, and outside linebacker -- may not translate entirely to the NFL, where the athletic level of everyone he faces will be high. 

WAS THIS A GOOD PICK? 

Yes, assuming he's going to be put into a position to succeed. If you're drafting him with the intent of putting him as the lone safety in single-high coverage, then that's a bad idea and you're going to be disappointed in this pick. He isn't going to excel in that role. But he can definitely excel in other roles, particularly zone coverage in cover-2 or cover-3 schemes. He's an intelligent player with excellent instincts, good athleticism, and a strong track record at Iowa. Iowa fans absolutely loved him by the end of his career in Iowa City and I have no doubt that that the fans of his new professional team could end up feeling the same way in a few years. 

7 Comments
View 7 Comments