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2024 NFL Draft Spotlight: Jaden Hicks

Unless you’re a Minkah Fitzpatrick, Derwin James, or Kyle Hamilton type of player, safeties don’t get much love in the buildup to the NFL Draft. From my point of view, they get their recognition in where they rank amongst other safeties, but not much more. The players listed above are generational talents who are a Swiss army knife for their team. But this is also what Jaden Hicks is for the Washington State Cougars. This was examined in his matchup this week versus Deion Sander’s CU Buffs. 


2024 NFL Draft Spotlight: Jaden Hicks, S, Washington State

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 212 lbs

Year: RS-Sophomore


As already stated, Jaden Hicks is a Swiss army knife for the Washington State Cougars. Against Colorado Friday night, Hicks was used in a myriad of ways playing all over the field. He’d line up shallow, or in the box, and bail deep, he’d line up deep and rotate for corner help, he played man, he blitzed well, and he was sturdy as a box defender. However, where I was most impressed by Hicks’ play this weekend was how he helped contain Travis Hunter. 

Everyone knows Travis Hunter; the former five-star recruit who went to Jackson State and followed Coach Prime to Boulder. Travis Hunter is a special kid, to say the least. Yet, Hicks played extremely well helping either bracket Hunter, cover him in man, or provide over-the-top safety help. Overall, it was a rather quiet night for Hicks as he didn’t directly contribute to creating turnovers or sacks. Still, he finished with nine tackles reminding evaluators of his reliable play and solid coverage skills. 

There wasn’t much play on Hicks’ end that screamed weakness. However, there were still some areas where he could improve. For instance, in the third quarter, Hicks came in as run support from his free safety spot and took an errant angle resulting in Colorado’s largest run of the game. Despite this, Hicks still got a hand on the ball carrier to slow him down, allowing him to regain his feet and eventually track him down. Along with this, hip fluidity and footwork are some areas Hicks could be better. When bailing, his hips were sometimes stiff and he took more steps than needed in his drops. 


Closing Remarks

The race for who’s the best safety in this year’s draft is tight. As of right now, it isn’t looking like Hicks will be that guy, but, this doesn’t mean he can’t be the second or third-best. After starting hot, he’s cooled down a bit causing him to slide down draft boards. Still, I give him a Day 2 grade. He’s an excellent football player with a wide skillset. 


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