If the 49ers Elect to Draft a Safety, it Would be Adams over Hooker

Niners Live presents yet another curve ball in the event the 49ers throw a curve ball in this years 2017 draft. No secret that the 49ers have needs across the board, namely at pass-rusher and in the secondary, as well. So as a contingency plan, if the 49ers address the secondary before the pass rush, they select Jamal Adams, not Malik Hooker and here’s why.

 

On February 16, 2017, Niners Live brought to you: Who’s Your Dark Horse? Featuring “DE Solomon Thomas” and on March 20, 2017: Fearless Predictions: The 49ers Draft “DE Solomon Thomas” on April, 6, 2017, Mock Draft 2017 Part II Rounds 1-4, Featuring Solomon Thomas DE Stanford and on April, 10, 2017, Familiarity: DC Robert Saleh Needs a Violent Disruptor, “Solomon Thomas.” Just to be crystal clear, Niners Live stands behind our selection. However, let’s say the 49ers give fans and the sports world a curve ball on day one of the draft, stay put at #2 overall, and select a safety.

Which one would it be? You had to ask, didn’t you? Here’s your answer. Niners Live would take Adams over Hooker and shortly will tell you why….

Jamal Adams, Louisiana State University, 6’0 214 lbs.

The best way to describe a player of this caliber is that they possess both common and uncommon talents with a rare combination of skills as well as a deep understanding of the game. Look no further than Jamal Adams. As can be expected, there are differing opinions based upon who you ask, but the one similarity in these said different opinions, is the way Adams is commonly described. When describing Adams, the two words “complete package” take up space on your frontal lobe. There is no question that Adams is the most versatile player at his position in this draft.

As with most prospects, there are always question marks and or concerns. The consensus on Adams was that he lacked range. The one way to remove doubt in any given situation, is to remove it with actions. Adams did just that, clocking a 4.38 40 time and even impressing in all areas at his pro day (NFL.com). In terms of comparisons, Adams has been compared to names like Hall of Famer and Super Bowl champion Ronnie Lott as well as Kenny Easley. With his speed, ball/coverage skills, tenacity, field awareness, and ability to knock chinstraps loose, his comparisons to greats are well deserved.

Okay, enough of taking my word for it, here’s what one of the experts had to say about Adams:

LSU defense legitimately asked him to play every position on their defense (besides on the line). Of his full workload, 14.2 percent of his snaps came lined up as a true linebacker, 14.1 percent came as a strong safety, 32.8 percent came as a slot corner, 38.5 percent came as a free safety and he even took three snaps as a true corner on the edge. The result was PFF’s highest-graded safety in all of football, and a top-10 lock in the upcoming draft” (Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus).

Adams isn’t lacking confidence:

“I can play everything in the back end. Coming down in the slot, come down on the tight end and cover. I can fill that A and B gap. Be in the box. I can also play man-free. I feel I can play everything in the back end. I get classified as a box safety, which is not something that I like, but I understand because I like being around the ball. I like making plays on the ball. I like making impact plays for the team” (Clevelandbrowns.com).

Adams can, and has, played every position on defense while in college except the defensive line as aforementioned. That rare flexibility and athleticism, size, talent, and football IQ to cover either the number one receiver out wide or number two wide receiver in the slot, running backs out the backfield, or even the tight end is rare and cannot be ignored.

Malik Hooker, Ohio State University, 6’1 206 lbs.

Fast, pure speed and athleticism, top notch ball tracking skills, yeah those are just a few words used to describe Malik Hooker. The guy can flat out ball. Though he’s still growing and developing as a player, there’s nothing he can’t do. As always, I like to introduce the opinion of the scouts and analysis.

CBS Sports on Hooker: “When it comes to range and ballhawking instincts at the safety position, Reed is the supreme prototype. And while it is high praise to mention such a young player in the same breath as the future Hall of Famer, Hooker’s skill-set is very similar with his athleticism, anticipation in coverage and ball skills. The comparison doesn’t mean that Hooker is destined to have the same career as Reed, but the talent is very comparable” (Rob Rang).

Comparisons like that don’t come because they’re popular. They come because it’s warranted and the individual is worthy of said comparison based upon effort and productivity. Well, you can call him ER2 then, because that’s exactly who Hooker plays like. The ultimate center fielder. No way a team doesn’t draft this guy if he’s available, this young man would make any team better with his name attached to any roster.

Don’t believe me?

Well, take a look at what one of the experts had to say. NFL.com on Hooker:

“He has all the athletic traits to become a high-impact player and possesses more than enough skill and talent to believe he will continue to elevate his game as a pro. Thomas has the potential to become the best defender from this draft class and a future all-pro” (Lance Zierlein). Hooker will be a day one impact player for a team and is the second percentile of players at his position. Can’t go wrong here.

Let me leave you with this.

To be quite honest, the 49ers need help at multiple positions. Though there’s talent on this roster, there isn’t enough (impact players) on this 49ers’ roster. This writer still feels the 49ers should address the (trenches/pass rush) first. Correction, I feel they need to address lack of a pass rush, but in the event they shock the world and go to a safety, Jamal Adams is the pick. Quite simply, both are phenomenal talents and impact players, indeed, without question. However, who’s the most versatile? Adams, that’s who.

With help needed at multiple positions in the 49ers secondary, there is a need for an impact player that can play multiple positions to maximize his full potential. With this pick, as long as there’s an average to above pass rush, he’s talented enough and can make enough plays to compensate if the pass rush doesn’t get there. He can play in the box or the single safety high and produce what DC Robert Saleh recently spoke of on the team’s website. He tracks the ball as if he has radar, can get sideline to sideline exceptionally fast, tackles very well, and can cover like a cornerback. Most importantly, he can create turnovers. Definitely a need area in the 49ers defense. Jamal Adams at safety is the best option if the 49ers decide to address the secondary instead of the pass rush. Single safety high playing center field or down in the box, Adams can do it all (that’s my story and I’ll be sticking to it with conviction).

As always, keep your eyes wide open, 49er fans. Niners Live will be watching with you. #eyeswideopen and often imitated but never duplicated… Go Niners.

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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Kevin Mitchell new Staff Writer at Niners Live. Co-Author, Editor NinersLive.