Former Ravens star safety Ed Reed went to nine Pro Bowls. Ohio State safety Malik Hooker hasn't even made nine college starts. But with his first season as a starter in the Buckeyes' secondary not even halfway complete, the third-year sophomore is being compared to Reed.
In fact, an area scout says the former NFL great is a good comp for Hooker.
"Dude is the best player on the field," the scout told MMQB. "I like him better than both safeties last year (Karl Joseph and Keanu Neal) ... First-rounder. Physical, quick, fast and explosive with a great nose for the ball."
Joseph and Neal were 2016 first-round picks in April, with Joseph chosen at No. 14 overall by the Raiders and Neal at No. 17 by the Falcons. Reed was the Ravens' first-round pick, No. 24 overall, in 2002. He retired in 2015 and is an assistant on the Bills' staff.
As a third-year sophomore, Hooker will be eligible for the 2017 NFL Draft if he applies for and is granted early eligibility. One season of starting experience at the college level isn't much to be drafted on, but his performance through OSU's first five games has been stellar. He's already made four interceptions, tied for most among FBS players. Last year, Hooker's playing time was limited by the presence of two safeties now in the NFL: Saints second-round pick Vonn Bell, and Tyvis Powell, an undrafted free agent who earned a spot on the Seahawks' roster.
Hooker's next chance to remind scouts of Reed comes Saturday in a big game at Wisconsin.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.