Less than one week into training camp, the Dallas Cowboys have help coming to the secondary. Malik Hooker is set to have a second visit with the team, according to DMN’s Michael Gehlken. The former first-round draft pick is expected to sign with the Cowboys if his physical goes well.

Hooker has had an unfortunate run in the NFL. As an Ohio State prospect, Hooker was projected by many to be one of the best prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah called for him to be one of the best free safeties in the league within a few years.

When healthy, he’s shown flashes of fulfilling those high expectations for the Indianapolis Colts. However, multiple injuries have kept him off the field. Since 2017, he’s played only in 36 games out of a potential 64.

In 2020, Malik Hooker suffered the worst injury in his four years in the league when he tore his Achilles versus the Minnesota Vikings. As a rookie, he tore his MCL and ACL in Week 7.

The Dallas Cowboys hope to get the healthy version of Malik Hooker if they sign him over the next few days. And make no mistake about it, they need his help.

“There’s definitely interest,” said Cowboys’ HC Mike McCarthy on Sunday, “I think he gives us another excellent football player. I think he’s someone who brings competition. He’s coming off a major injury.”

For Malik Hooker, it’s all about remaining healthy. He’s very good in coverage and a playmaker. There’s no better evidence for this than his 2018 season, in which he played 14 games and finished the year as one of the best-graded safeties in the league.

It’s no secret that Dan Quinn accepted the defensive coordinator job in Dallas to rebuild a unit that lacks a lot of talent. The Cowboys broke the wrong type of records in 2020, allowing 473 points, the most in franchise history. They also gave up the second-most yards in team history.

Quinn has a young core of defensive backs, yet inexperienced. The Cowboys have a group of players with potential at safety, but it’s not a unit to be completely sold on.

  • Damontae Kazee (projected starter at FS)
  • Donovan Wilson (projected starter at SS)
  • Jayron Kearse
  • Israel Mukuamu (listed as CB, but training as S)
  • Darian Thompson
  • Tyler Coyle
  • Steven Parker

Outside of the two projected starters, it doesn’t seem like anyone’s safe. They’re all competing to make the 53-man roster. Hooker, if signed, would certainly be an immediate lock to make the team. In fact, he might even compete for starting reps with Kazee at some point in the season.

Even if he doesn’t become the starter over Kazee, the Cowboys’ depth at the position would completely change. Instead of having average veterans or underdeveloped rookies backing up the starters, Hooker would be able to step in and bring high-level football to the table.

Damontae Kazee is also coming off an Achilles injury in 2020, which really speaks on the Cowboys’ risk-tolerance when it comes to signing free agents. But risk is relative to reward, and vice versa. If Hooker and/or Kazee work out for the Dallas Cowboys, they will be solving a problem they’ve had at safety for a long time.

If all goes well with Hooker’s physical, he’ll likely be wearing the Star when the Cowboys kick off the season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1.

Featured image via Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports