INDIANAPOLIS —According to NFL Media analysts Mike Mayock and Bucky Brooks, Malik Hooker is the top-rated safety prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft.
But NFL personnel won't get to see Hooker's skills in action this weekend at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine because the Ohio State product is not participating in on-field drills.
Hooker said he was injured late in the season but toughed it out before having core muscle and hip surgeries on Jan. 16. He said there was never a doubt he was going to miss any games.
"That was never a thought," Hooker said. "I put too much work in with (my teammates), and it'd was like I was letting them down.
"We went through the offseason and the grind, I feel like everything I worked for and everything we worked for as a team would have been thrown away if I didn't go out there and compete with those guys."
Hooker said he plans to be healthy in a few months.
"I'm looking forward to coming back around rookie (mini)camp … but right now, it's just a day-to-day thing," Hooker said.
Hooker, who led the nation with three interception returns for touchdowns in 2016, said he's still enjoying his week in Indianapolis, which includes plenty of vetting by NFL teams.
"The experience here has been amazing," Hooker said. "I'm not even participating in a lot of the drills and stuff, but being here and watching this last year and seeing how those guys were competing, to be a part of this is an amazing experience."
"They're asking me about everything," Hooker later added. "Your background, what you did in the past and if there's any secrets, play formations, injuries … just everything you can think of."
Here are a few additional statements from some of the top safety prospects ranked by Mayock and Brooks:
Jamal Adams, LSU
Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock S2, Brooks S2
On leadership during LSU's coaching change: "Just doing what I'm asked to do, speak up in meetings, hold players-only meetings and telling the truth. Tell guys what's about to happen, what's going on and just staying positive. If they see a veteran staying positive and still fighting, the young guys will along and dot the right thing."
On his versatility: "I can play everything in the back end, whether that's covering in the slot, playing man free, being in the A and B gap or locking down tight ends. I feel like I'm versatile to play everything in the back end and that's what makes me a special player."
Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock S3, Brooks S3
Note: Peppers participated in on-field workouts with linebackers on Sunday.
On transitioning from linebacker to safety: "(I can play) free or strong," Peppers said. "Very fast, stronger than the typical DB, tougher than the typical DB.
"I played linebacker in the Big Ten at 200 pounds, so I can play nickel, I can play some corner still," Peppers added. "It's going to be a fun process."
Marcus Williams, Utah
Pre-combine draft rankings: Brooks S4
*On his love for football:* "I love to compete. I love the passion of the game, the energy and I love how I can get away from life just being able to play football."
*On his football smarts:* "It allowed me to see different schemes and concepts from the (opposing) team. Being able to know what they're going to do before they do it on the field puts me and my team in a better position to make plays. As you can see from the last few years, Utah has been a school that's known for their takeaways and that's what our film study did for us."
Budda Baker, Washington
Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock S4
On weighing in at 195 pounds: "I put on a couple extra pounds. I was 192 but drank two water bottles to be that 195 and look good."
On his ideal playing weight: "My ideal playing weight is 195. I feel like I can make open field tackles and do all I can do at 195."
On expectations for the 40-yard dash: "I'm hoping to run a low 4.4, maybe even get in the 4.3s. My teammates, John Ross, really inspired me (by setting the combine record at 4.22), so that's my goal."
Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut
Pre-combine draft rankings: Mayock S5
*On his best game in college:* "(Against) Tulane, it was my last game, just going out with a bang and really setting the bar high with 24 tackles, which tied a UConn record. I was feeling it that day."