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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

OSU Buckeyes Stars Begin to Enter Draft - 2017 Early NFL Mock Draft

Malik Hooker Says Goodbye to Two Remaining Years at OSU, Will Enter NFL Draft
By Tony Gerdeman

PHOENIX — To no surprise, Ohio State redshirt safety Malik Hooker announced on Monday his intention to forego his final two years of eligibility and enter the 2017 NFL Draft.
He announced his decision via Twitter, addressing his tweet to Buckeye Nation.
"The past three years have been among the most trying yet most fulfilling years of my life," he wrote. "Even though my time here didn’t start off the way I planned, I have gained a love and appreciation for Columbus that is hard to put into words. I can’t thank my OSU family enough for taking in a small-town kid like myself and allowing me to grow into a man. Thanks to my teachers, coaches, and my fellow Buckeyes, I’ve grown considerably both as a football player and as a person.
"This growth has led me to make one of the toughest yet most exciting decisions of my life. I have talked with my family and we have decided it’s best for me to forgo my remaining two years of eligibility and declare for the 2017 NFL draft. I want to thank God first and foremost for blessing me with the opportunity to make this decision, my family, and my friends for getting me to where I am today I have built friendships that will forever last.
"And of course, I would like to extend my thanks to Buckeye Nation! It’s been a pleasure to be able to compete at the highest level with the best fans and band in the Nation! I can’t way to build upon the legacy that is THE Ohio State University each and every Sunday on the gridiron. OH-IO! Until Next Time."
Former Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell recently told a story about recruiting Hooker, saying that when he and Meyer went to watch him play basketball, Hooker scored over 30 points and did it without a jump shot. Had he not been so tenacious and aggressive on the court that night, they may not have decided to offer him.
Now Hooker will leave Ohio State after just one year as a starter, but what a year it was. He finished third on the team with 74 tackles, and also added 5.5 tackles for loss. His seven interceptions were good for third in the nation and his three touchdowns were the best in college football.
He is viewed as a possible Top 10 pick.
Hooker has been backed up by junior Erick Smith this season. Smith also backed up Tyvis Powell in 2014. The rising senior will likely begin the spring as the No. 1 strong safety when camp gets under way in March.

NFL Mock Draft

1. Cleveland Browns

Mitch Trubisky, QB, North Carolina: If any of the quarterbacks on Cleveland's current roster had shown flashes of being a franchise savior this season, the Browns might consider taking Myles Garrett or Jonathan Allen, the best players in the draft. Barring the addition of a veteran in the offseason, the most likely scenario has Cleveland giving Hue Jackson his pick of a shaky quarterback class. CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora has reported that the Browns are already honing in on Trubisky, an Ohio native and childhood Browns fan. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Trubisky has the tools and intangibles to excite but is a huge projection as an NFL franchise quarterback after only emerging UNC's starter this season.

2. San Francisco 49ers

Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M: Like the Browns one pick earlier, the 49ers are so desperate for help at quarterback that the club could have little choice but to ignore safer prospects at other positions and roll the dice. It is hard to fathom a potential Pro Bowl caliber edge rusher like Garrett -- the best player in this class -- falling outside of the top two picks, however. Garrett plays defensive end for the Aggies but projects to a stand-up edge rusher in the 49ers' scheme and would complement recent early first-round picks on Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner.

3. Chicago Bears

Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama: As long as the defensive-minded John Fox is calling the shots in Chicago, reinforcing this side of the ball will be a priority. The 6-3, 292-pound Allen offers unique position versatility to go along with the production and intangibles the current regime prioritized in draft picks last spring. Allen is stout against the run and a proven pass rusher with 19 sacks in his past 26 games.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

Dalvin Cook, RB, Florida StateWhoever is tabbed as the Jaguars' next head coach will want to boost the running game, the only one in the NFL to fumble the ball away more times (nine) than score touchdowns (eight) in 2016. Instinctive, explosive and durable, Cook might be hard to pass up for a franchise that has gone with a local flavor with its past three first round picks: QB Blake Bortles (Central Florida), DE Dante Fowler (Florida) and CB Jalen Ramsey (Florida State).

5. Tennessee Titans (from Los Angeles)

Jamal Adams, S, LSUThe Titans improved in virtually every category in 2016 but one significant exception was in pass defense, where Tennessee ranked 31st. Fortunately for Tennessee, the 2017 draft appears to be loaded with play-making defensive backs. Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and secondary coach Deshea Townsend may see shades of former Steelers star Troy Polamalu in Adams, because of their similar awareness, athleticism and enthusiastic style of play.

6. New York Jets

Deshaun Watson, QB, ClemsonYoungsters Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberghave shown little evidence that either is the long-term answer at quarterback, and with veterans Ryan Fitzpatrick and Geno Smith set to hit the open market, at least one addition to the position group is likely coming. Watson is a polarizing player in the scouting community, dazzling with his dual-threat potential but throwing 28 interceptions over the past two seasons, most in the FBS. He could be an intriguing fit in Chan Gailey's offense, however, and has the history of performing well under the bright lights that may mean more on Broadway.
The Jets start over again at QB with Deshaun Watson. USATSI

7. San Diego Chargers

Malik Hooker, S, Ohio StateThe Chargers won big with Joey Bosa a year ago and could see the speedy Hooker as an ideal replacement for Eric Weddle, whom the club clearly missed in 2016. The 6-foot-2, 205 pound Hooker possesses the range and ball skills to complement San Diego's small but physical cornerbacks.

8. Carolina Panthers

Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: One of the reasons for Carolina's slip this season has been an inconsistent running game, putting the spotlight once again on Jonathan Stewart's struggles with durability. Stewart has only played in 16 regular-season games three times over his nine-year career and not since 2011. Fournette is a freakish talent, boasting the most exciting combination of size, speed and power since Adrian Peterson.

9. Cincinnati Bengals

Tim Williams, OLB, Alabama: Marvin Lewis will remain the Bengals head coach in 2017 but with the pressure on, he likely will be pushing for players who can make an immediate impact. Williams is arguably the most dynamic edge rusher in this class, winning with terrific snap anticipation and bend around the edge. His ability off the edge might be the best complement to Cincinnati's current stars Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap, who were the only two Bengals to account for more than 3.5 sacks in 2016.

10. Buffalo Bills

Mike Williams, WR, Clemson: No team was more dependent on running the football in 2016 than the Bills, which led the NFL with 164.4 yards per game on the ground but ranked 30th in passing with just 189.8 yards per game through the air. With no less than five receivers currently slated for free agency, the Bills will likely be looking for replacements and could see reuniting the 6-3, 225 pound Williams with his former Clemson teammate Sammy Watkins as the perfect solution.

11. New Orleans Saints

Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama: Given that the Saints finished last in the NFL against the pass in 2016, adding one of the talented cornerbacks from this year's class would seem like a shoo-in selection. Possessing remarkable closing speed and the physicality to intimidate, Foster could offer immediate impact ability against the pass and run, alike.
Reuben Foster would upgrade a Saints defense in need of playmakers. USATSI

12. Cleveland Browns (from Philadelphia)

Teez Tabor, CB, Florida: Hue Jackson and his staff deserve credit for an improving offense. The defense remains a quagmire, despite several premium draft picks being spent on the unit in recent years. With the need for an edge rusher potentially filled with the trade for former New England Patriots standout Jamie Collins (a pending free agent), the Browns might opt to pair Tabor with former Gators star Joe Haden to add some bite to the secondary.

13. Arizona Cardinals

DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame: Poor performances and injury concerns for Carson Palmer have rekindled questions about the Cardinals' long-term plans at the position. As just a redshirt sophomore, Kizer is understandably raw but he possesses the size, arm strength and field vision to be an ideal developmental project for Bruce Arians.

14. Indianapolis Colts

Derek Barnett, DE/OLB, Tennessee: Outside linebacker Erik Walden contributed a full third of the Colts' 33 sacks this season and with longtime standout Robert Mathisretiring, adding reinforcements to the pass rush should be among GM Ryan Grigson's top offseason priorities. The 6-3, 257-pound Barnett lacks the length and pure explosiveness scouts would prefer, but he's a well-rounded player who combines quickness, strength and technique to be effective against the pass and run alike.

15. Philadelphia Eagles (from Minnesota)

Corey Davis, WR, Western MichiganDespite plenty of draft picks invested in the position, the Eagles lack a go-to target in the passing game to aid the development of Carson Wentz. Starring in the MAC rather than a Power 5 conference, Davis does not earn the attention he deserves but he's a polished route-runner with an ideal combination of size (6-3, 213) with 4.4 speed.

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