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Jordan Hicks 2015 NFL Draft scouting report

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A tumultuous college career leaves Jordan Hicks with warts as a prospect, but he has the potential to be a quality NFL starter at linebacker.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

All of Buffalo Rumblings' 2015 NFL Draft coverage can be found in our NFL Draft section. These scouting reports are part of our 2015 NFL Draft big board, which is also available under the "Library" header on our site's navigation bar.

Jordan Hicks

  • Position: Linebacker (LB)
  • Class: Senior (redshirt)
  • College: Texas
  • Ht/Wt: 6'1", 236 pounds

Scouting Report

One thing is for sure: Jordan Hicks has had a bumpy college career at Texas. He had to redshirt his 2012 season after tearing his hip flexor three games into the season. He ended up suspended from the team at the end of the 2012 season after being arrested on sexual assault allegations, but no charges were filed and the case was officially closed, with Hicks being reinstated to the team two weeks later. His 2013 season didn't bode much better, with a torn Achilles tendon leading to another medical redshirt after four games started. Mercifully, his 2013 offseason and 2014 season were incident-free, and the recovered Hicks finally played a whole season as a starting linebacker for the Longhorns under new coach Charlie Strong, racking up around 140 tackles (11 for a loss).

Hicks is one of the more athletic linebackers in this class, even after suffering his injuries earlier in his career. He moves fluidly around the field and can burst forward to make a tackle. He tracks the football very well, sniffing out run plays and sliding between gaps to make tackles. His Oklahoma game this year was a strong performance, showcasing his ability to fill a gap and stuff plays. He's athletic enough to handle pass coverage, although he struggles to read a quarterback's intent with the ball; I saw him being looked away from a receiver by a quarterback's eyes several times, and it seems like he doesn't have a natural feel for what's going on behind him. Still, it's clear that whatever's in front of him is something he's seen on film many times before, and watching him make defensive calls pre-snap, I could tell a few times that he knew exactly what play was coming. This is a player who does a lot of studying.

While Hicks tackles with good form, he's not blessed with a strong core, and he does his best work when unimpeded by offensive linemen. Watching him play against Baylor, where mobile guards would routinely engage him at the second level, he was capable of shedding blocks, but not until he had been marched three yards off the ball. Against physical backs like Shock Linwood, he was often dragged for yards after contact. The lack of strength may be a result of needing to spend multiple offseasons rehabbing from injuries, but right now it's something to be concerned about. He probably fits best into an NFL defense as a weak-side linebacker, allowing defensive linemen and the middle linebacker to take on blockers so that he can roam the field unimpeded and stuff plays, similar to Kiko Alonso's skill set. If given that opportunity as a full-time starter, I think he's the type of player who will easily amass 120-plus tackles in a season.

Grade

I don't think Hicks is quite as great as his Oklahoma tape looked, but he has the potential to be a good starting linebacker for a long time in this league. The two things that could hold him back: his injury history, and his lack of core strength. The first one is something you have to accept as a risk and manage with conditioning exercises, while the second would probably have to be dealt with through scheme. As it is, I'd put the third round as my sweet spot for Hicks, and that's probably my ceiling. He's an athletic linebacker who can contribute immediately on special teams and looks like a future starter, and that's worth the day two pick to me, even with his red flags.