Chris Ballard’s first pick as general manager of the Indianapolis Colts is in.

Malik Hooker.

The former Ohio State safety draws high praise from the coaching and scouting community, earning comparisons to even the great Ed Reed.

Hooker’s talent speaks for itself. Though he started only one season for the Buckeyes, Hooker became a first-team All-American, intercepting seven passes, breaking up four others and making 74 tackles.

His position, safety, is also increasingly important in today’s NFL, given the prominence of slot wide receivers and tight ends, and changes to the rule book that make life much more difficult for pass defenders.

That said, the Colts offensive line remains dreadful, and Andrew Luck needs protection. Though Hooker stands to do some of that on the defensive side of the ball, helping keep offenses out of the end zone and games close, Luck has already suffered a lacerated kidney and a major shoulder injury the last few years. Pass protection should have been a priority here.

 

In what’s considered a down draft for offensive linemen, maybe Ballard is punting on addressing the position at the top of the draft, or in this draft altogether. If so, that means JJ Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, Whitney Mercilus, Benardrick McKinney and the Hosuton Texans should have little issue getting after Luck twice a year for 2017 at the very least.

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