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Top 10 Quotes: Colts Select Safety Malik Hooker
April 28, 2017 12:17 PM | Andrew Walker
INDIANAPOLIS -The Indianapolis Colts got their man.

For months, there was all sorts of speculation about what the team would do with its first-round pick in this year's NFL Draft, where they found themselves right near the middle at No. 15 overall. While many draft experts believed there were sure-fire Top 5 and even Top 10 picks, several different names at several different positions were thrown around as possibilities to land in Indy.

But nobody could've predicted what actually ended up happening.

The quarterback-starved Chicago Bears gave up a whole bunch to the San Francisco 49ers just to move from No. 3 to No. 2 overall, where they surprised many by taking North Carolina signal caller Mitch Trubisky. That set off a chain of moves by several other teams that, this year, seemed focused on getting immediate playmakers on offense: running back Leonard Fournette went No. 4 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, while fellow running back Christian McCaffery went eighth overall to the Carolina Panthers; wide receivers Corey Davis, Mike Williams and John Ross went No. 5, 7 and 9, respectively, to the Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Chargers and Cincinnati Bengals.

Then, in another somewhat-surprising move, the Kansas City Chiefs traded up to get the Buffalo Bills' pick at No. 10 overall, taking Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson - regarded by many to be the best QB in the draft this year -was actually the third player taken at his position two picks later, at No. 12 overall, where the Houston Texans traded up to get him.

With all of this going on, some of the bigger defensive names in this year's draft fell further and further into the laps of the teams in the middle of the round. Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore went 11th to the New Orleans Saints, and then Tennessee pass rusher Derek Barnett went 14th to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Miraculously, this led to Ohio State safety Malik Hooker - the Colts' top player on their draft board -being available for the taking when Indy went on the clock with the 15th pick.

Yeah, he'll do.

There was obviously excitement all around last night in the wake of the selection. Colts general manager Chris Ballard and head coach Chuck Pagano couldn't have been happier with how things shook out, while Hooker himself has found a home in an Indianapolis secondary that was in major need of his services.

It doesn't hurt that the Colts, thanks to Joseph Addai and the Madden EA Sports video game series, were Hooker's favorite team growing up.

So what exactly did the three have to say about the pick? Here's the Top 10 quotes of the night:

• "I was surprised. I definitely didn't expect that at all. But when I saw the Indianapolis number pop up on my phone, I instantly got excited because the Colts used to be my favorite team growing up. It's even a better thing for me." - Newest Colts safety Malik Hooker, asked if he thought the Colts would give him a call Thursday night, or if the pick was a huge surprise.

• "No. Absolutely Not. I'm not going to lie though, about 10 days ago we brought - we were in there working through the draft board, and I kept asking, 'What if one of these guys falls? Would we be willing to pull the trigger and take him?' And we ended up bringing him in. I said, 'Let's bring (Malik) Hooker in just in case. Just in case he falls, let's make sure we've spent our time with him other than the combine. Have our medical people look at him again.' And it worked out good for us." -Colts general manager Chris Ballard, asked if the team's pick unfolded how he predicted.

• "First of all, we never thought that he'd be there at 15. We thought he was a top-10 pick ever since we laid eyes on this kid. He's a rare, rare athlete. He's an elite guy. He's a centerfielder. We know he's a ball hawk. Seven interceptions last year, he returned three of them (for touchdowns). He's a threat to score every time he gets his hands on the football." - Colts head coach Chuck Pagano on his immediate thoughts after selecting Hooker at 15th overall.

• "I feel like there's really no challenge honestly. I feel like it's just more so getting used to the NFL lifestyle. I figure I'm 21 years old and I've got a bunch of money. I feel like just not getting ahead of myself and just keep playing and working as if I'm not the guy that I am. That's all that it is. Like I did in college. Nothing new, just enhance what I'm doing." - Hooker, on his biggest challenge making the jump from college football to the professional ranks.

• "No, I wasn't on the edge. I'm going to tell you this, the two hours before the draft was the calmest I've probably - the first bit of peace I've had since I've walked in this building. There were no calls. I just sat in my office and thought about what we would do with our pick when we got to that moment, and at no point did I really think Malik was going to be there. But no, not on the edge of my seat. And there was a few players we really liked still up on the board, but we had Malik ranked very high." - Ballard, on if he was on the edge of his seat watching the first half of the draft unfold on Thursday.

• "His talent, his value - it was really good where we got him. We didn't expect it. We're enthusiastic about it. You watch everything else. Like I told the coaches and Chris (Ballard) and I talk - we're not worried about the ones that we didn't get. We're just worried about the ones that we did get. And don't worry about anything else and get that guy in here, get him healthy, get him coached up and get him to his ceiling because he's got a lot of room to grow and we got a special athlete and a special player and a special person to work with." -Pagano, on the drama unfolding throughout the first round of this year's NFL Draft.

• "Honestly, I don't pay attention. Critics like that, they're not the worst. I'm the biggest critic that I've got. There's stuff like that that I know I've got to work on, but if I sit here and worry about something that somebody else is saying, then that's just affecting my game because I'm going to be so worried about what somebody is saying all the time." - Hooker, offering his response to the criticism about his tackling abilities.

• "Absolutely. We can't create enough. We can't create enough competition. And the good thing is at safety, so you have Darius (Butler) who can play safety and play some corner in nickel. You have (Clayton) Geathers who can drop down and play some dime linebacker. We think T.J. Green can do some of that. So they'll all find a role on Sunday." -Ballard, responding to the fact that the team has a lot of competition now at the safety position.

• "You got (Leonard) Fournette and you start looking around saying, 'We better get someone who can tackle this dude.' We got some guys right now, but sure it'd be nice to get a couple other guys to help get his big fanny on the ground. A heck of a wideout that goes to Tennessee in Corey Davis. He's a game-wrecker. We've got an athletic quarterback (Deshaun Watson) now in Houston. Everybody is getting better and we're in that conversation. We got better." -Pagano, on all the big moves made in the first round by AFC South Division teams.

• "Honestly, I'm not sure. The mindset that I have right now is just getting in there and just working my tail off to make myself better and try to elevate everybody's game around me. That's the type of player that I am." - Hooker, on the competition at safety for the Colts entering the season, and whether or not he can be an immediate starter.

The analysis from those producing content on Colts.com does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by Colts.com content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.
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