by J.T. Toth
Photo courtesy of Washington State University Athletics.
At Draft 412, the NFL draft talk never ends. We will keep you ready for the next set of gridiron stars—from today and all the way until draft night 2024. We will bring you mock drafts, player profiles, individual team needs, and everything else you may need related to the 2024 NFL Draft.
Today’s Spotlight - Washington State, Safety, Jaden Hicks
Name- Jaden Hicks
Team- Washington State
HT/WT- 6’3” 212 lbs.
Home – Las Vegas, NV
Hicks attended Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas. As a junior, he was named All-State First Team by MaxPreps after making 27 tackles and 7 interceptions, including 3 that were returned for touchdowns. He was rated a 3-star prospect by ESPN. His senior year was canceled due to Covid-19 and during the year, he committed to play at Washington State.
Jaden Hicks redshirted his freshman season after only getting into one game against Portland State but enjoyed a breakout season last year. He started 11 out of 13 games and was named to the Freshman All-America Third Team by College Football News. He was second on the team in tackles with 76 and had a sack and an interception.
In 2023, Hicks played in 5 games and already has 36 tackles. He also has an interception and 1.5 sacks, the interception was returned for a touchdown.
Hicks is a stout, aggressive tackler who meets blockers and ball carriers head on. He is always moving and hustling, seeming to find a way to be a part of most plays. He tracks the ball well and uses his length to make plays while rarely getting flagged. He is a physical defender and matches up well against the stronger receivers and plays with a mean streak defensive coordinators like to see. He finds the best route to football and is always playing downhill.
Though Hicks is a punishing run stopper, he does not play with the same aggressiveness in the passing game. He gives up a lot of ground to receivers before he breaks on the ball and he’s not instinctive on picking up routes as they develop. He is quick but not fast and sometimes his reads are a second too late. There are times he sells out to stop the run and gives up the deep part of the field on play action fakes.
Jaden Hicks and his aggressive run defense reminds draftniks of 2020 2nd round pick Kyle Dugger, who is now a New England Patriots safety. Hicks is a tad bit taller than Dugger, but both excel in run defense. Both are capable of turning an interception into a big play but also lack the coverage skills of the elite safeties.
Too much cushion
Instincts in routes
Jaden Hicks is a riser on many draft boards and should be a solid #2 safety on most defenses, who will specialize in run stopping.
Draft 412 Draft Prediction - 3rd or 4th Round