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NFL Draft Rumors: Todd McShay says Malik Hooker could fall, too

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The Bucs could end up picking one of the best safeties in the draft.

NFL: Combine Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s an interesting 2017 NFL draft development: both NFL Network’s Mike Mayock and ESPN’s Todd McShay are now saying that Ohio State safety Malik Hooker will fall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ first-round pick at number 19.

McShay gave the Bucs cornerback Marlon Humphrey in his ‘final’ mock draft earlier today, but updated that mock based on “the latest information from sources in the league.” Those sources are apparently saying Hooker could fall from his projected top 10 selection to number 19.

The Bucs would love it if [Dalvin] Cook was still on the board at 19. Hooker had three different surgeries this offseason, which could cause him to fall further than expected. While Hooker has some limitations versus the run, he's the best ball-hawking safety in this draft class.

In this mock, Dalvin Cook went to Washington at number 17. The consensus seems to be that that running back will be off the board once the Bucs pick, but I don’t think they’d much care if Hooker falls. The fact that so many (well, two) analysts are suddenly saying that Hooker could fall to number 19 is fascinating.

Let’s be clear: if Hooker falls because of health issues, that could certainly be a concern for the Bucs, too. It wouldn’t be the first time for a highly rated prospect to drop a long way because of offseason surgeries—see Da’Quan Bowers, for instance. So even if he falls, there’s no guarantee Tampa Bay would take him.

Still, Hooker would be really tough to pass up, even with significant injury concerns. He may be the most talented safety in this draft and would be a great fit for the Bucs’ need for a deep safety. He only has one year of starting experience in college and there’s definitely some rawness to his game, but he has the very real potential to be an All-Pro with a little more development.