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NAME: Amani Hooker

SCHOOL: Iowa

CONFERENCE: Big Ten

POSITION: Safety

CLASS: True Junior

JERSEY: No. 27

RECRUITMENT RATING: 3-star

HT: 6’0

WT: 202 lbs

D.O.B.: 06/14/1998



Coverage Spacing Hard not to fall for his transitions, ability to overlap routes from his responsibility are top shelf. Shows really natural segues and ability to drop off as he feels another route developing into his space. Natural to mirror the eyes of the QB.

AccelerationLacks high end initial burst. His top speed is perfectly fine but not sold on explosiveness to play true single high free safety. Limitations may hold him to Cover 2 and shallow zones but he excels in those areas anyway…scheme fit needs to be there.

Tackling –Doesn’t showcase a prominent wingspan as a tackler so ball carriers who can test his tackle balance may slip past him on occasion. When he’s flush, he’s money. When targets are stationary, he’s money. Brings the feet through contact to finish strong.

Zone Coverage Skills Is within his element within 20 yards of the LOS. Confident in ability to pass off route stems but also quick to identify teammates in a bind and hold his water a little longer. Quick and nimble in between zones and shows wonderful anticipation.

Ball SkillsBall hawk. Peripheral vision allows for the minor adjustments on the fly to feel routes developing and begin his creep into the catch point, which helps boost impact and marginalize his lack of a true elite explosive first step.

Competitive ToughnessHas notable influence in the box, especially when playing vs. outside run/check downs and screen passes. Violent hands and aggressive charge reset blockers and he plays through contact well. Like his functional strength as a wrap up tackler.

FlexibilityDoesn’t show a lot of pronounced flip in his hips to carry route stems, but he’s always in control and foot speed helps allow him to hit landmarks with ease. Doesn’t fly open when transitioning like you see from more dynamic athletes at the position.

Feet/Change of Direction –Methodical step frequency, always balanced, controlled and precise. Love his transitions due to footwork, draws the most out of his athletic skill set and allows him to snooker opposing QBs in zone coverage with how he drops off his trajectory to sink and steal a pass.

Man Coverage Skills Was tasked with playing a lot of press man on the goal line (NIU/ISU/MISS ST) and shows desirable patience to stay square and disrupt the release. Hasn’t been asked to play a lot of turn and run but physical skill set suggests marginal returns there.

VersatilityImpact zone coverage defender with value in the run game to get into the LOS. Marginal man cover skills in the red area. Not necessarily a universal prospect, press man teams that prefer Cover-1 may be further down on him but an admirable fit for C-2 and C-3 heavy teams.


BEST TRAIT – Zone Coverage Skills

WORST TRAIT – Deep Range

BEST FILM – Northern Illinois (2018)

WORST FILM – Iowa State (2018)

RED FLAGS – None

Amani Hooker projects favorably as a modern age Strong Safety. While Hooker lacks the initial burst and range to play in single high, he’s strong in Cover-2 and in shallow zones thanks to terrific football IQ, clean footwork for sudden transitions and good ball skills. Effective block shedding from the slot to blow up screens and impact the run. Hooker should be a starter who can be a true asset both vs. the run and pass. Should transition quickly thanks to football IQ.

Range – Super limited athlete who can’t really open up and run well enough to defend a ton of territory in zone. Doesn’t have the speed to play single-high and have an expansive area of effectiveness. Didn’t give up many big plays, but had some moments on tape where receivers ran by him too easily, long speed to carry vertically over his head is a big question.

Ball Skills – Loves to bait quarterbacks into throws, but doesn’t often arrive in time to make a play on the ball. Elite eyes to read quarterbacks in zone coverage, putting himself in position to slide into throwing lanes for interceptions. Terrific hands to make high-point catches outside his frame. Ball skills will be as good as his athleticism/closing speed allow them to be, everything else is there.

Man Coverage – Awareness and technique are solid. Intentionally plays off his man to try to bait quarterbacks into throws, but then doesn’t often show the explosiveness needed to close quickly on the window. Transitions are clunky, long speed is questionable. May be hard to find a great fit for him in coverage, not athletic enough to match the shifty, explosive slot receivers and doesn’t have the length or hops to contest with tight ends at the catch point.

Fluidity/Agility – Unable to adjust his path on the fly if his opponent changes the pursuit angle. Tight in the hips and clunky in his turns from rolled up position in coverage. Doesn’t mirror particularly well in space and can’t accelerate with quicker skill players trying to run by him.

Tackling – If he squares you up, he’ll lay the wood. Can wrap up and drive through targets with good form. Issues come when he’s over-aggressive and fails to break down in space. Shiftier ball carriers give him fits in space, as he struggled to mirror them laterally. Reliant on good angles to the ball, which can be spotty at times.

Run Defense – Toughness and willingness are non-issues, won’t hesitate to mix it up. Takes aggressive angles at times and can abandon his run fills to try and make a play he’s typically not athletic enough to make. Better run defender when he’s around the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped then coming from deep. Does a great job setting the edge and playing with outside leverage to turn runs back inside as a slot corner. Quick processor who comes downhill at max speed when he IDs run. Too easily eliminated by blockers, even on the perimeter.

Route Recognition – One of the smartest zone defenders in the class. Trusts his eyes and has outstanding feel for routes entering his zone. Awareness to process and react is impressive. As a slot, IDs screens from film study and will enter attack mode early in the rep. Plays aggressive as a result of the work he’s put in from the neck up.

Versatility – Aligned in the slot for Iowa frequently, while also being able to play in deep zones and around the box as needed. Versatility was a collegiate strength, but more due to his smarts than his traits, which could limit how many roles he can fill in the NFL. Production from a single-high position might be significantly limited due to lack of range and explosiveness.

Competitive Toughness – Never hesitant to stick his nose in the pile. Physical and won’t back down from rigorous work around the box. Plays every snap hard and has talked extensively about film work playing a major role in how he plays on game days.

Athleticism/Size – Terrific size and strength for the position. Build is filled out and looks pro-ready. Athleticism is a major question mark. Combine is as big for his stock as any player in the country.


BEST TRAIT – Instincts/Route Recognition

WORST TRAIT – Range/Athleticism

RED FLAGS – None

You know when scouts say they want to like a player, but they just can’t get there? Hooker is the living embodiment of that feeling. His smarts, awareness and mental processing as a player are rare, but so is his lack of athleticism in a Power 5 starting safety. Hooker is just too limited in his movement skills and explosiveness to make good on his mental prowess as a coverage safety, and he’s more capable than highly impactful around the line of scrimmage.

Hooker’s odd combination of ball skills without range, physicality without great tackling and high football IQ without projecting to a super versatile role in the NFL make him a tough study. At worst he’s a core special teamer and good depth piece at defensive back however, which makes him worth adding with a mid-round pick.