Versatility might be the most important trait an NFL prospect can possess, because there’s simply no substitute for the ability to play multiple positions.
Amani Hooker certainly displayed that ability throughout his Iowa career and he’s using his versatility as a selling point to teams at this year’s NFL Combine.
Hooker’s grasp of Iowa’s star position in its nickel defense gave the Hawkeyes unit an added dimension last season.
“It was a challenging transition, but I had a lot of fun,” Hooker said. “I took pride in it. Coach Phil Parker gave me a lot of trust.”
And now Hooker’s using that experience to convince NFL teams he can provide the same type of position flexibility at the next level.
“A versatile player who is going to make plays no matter what position he’s gonna be in, and works hard and wants to win every game,” Hooker said.
His versatility is enhanced by having to play closer to the line of scrimmage as a safety-linebacker hybrid.
“I mean I gotta think faster,” Hooker said. “I gotta play quicker. And also understanding now I gotta watch film on the offensive line, on the defensive line, I gotta understand what they’re trying to do in the run game so I can know my fits.”
Hooker’s draft value isn’t just in his position versatility. ESPN NFL analyst Matt Bowen says Hooker consistently does the work that not all defensive backs enjoy doing.
“Finishing on the football, which everyone talks about here in Indianapolis,” Bowen said. “The number-one thing if I’m a coach is can you tackle? Tackling wins and loses football games whether it’s high school on Friday nights or Sundays in the pro game… and that’s what Hooker is gonna give you.”
Another attractive NFL trait is Hooker’s high football IQ, which helps anticipate an opposing scheme before it develops.
“If you have vision you can understand what teams are trying to do to you,” Hooker said. “You can do a lot of pre-snap reads and a lot of post-snaps reads during the play understanding play recognition.”
Hooker says he’s also telling teams he can be a contibutor on special teams, just like Desmond King and Micah Hyde — two former Hawks who’ve made pretty good names for themselves in the league.
ESPN NFL Analyst Matt Bowen praised Hooker saying, “The number-one thing if I’m a coach is can you tackle? Tackling wins and loses football games whether it’s high school on Friday nights or Sundays in the pro game…and that’s what Hooker is gonna give you.”
Former Iowa defensive back Amani Hooker described himself as, “A versatile player who is going to make plays no matter what position he’s gonna be in, and works hard and wants to win every game.”