Heading into the 2017 season, few Eagles will be under the radar as much as Jordan Hicks.

The team’s third-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, after appearing in just eight games as a rookie, played in all 16 games last season, collecting 85 tackles, five interceptions and 11 pass defensed.

He truly is becoming the face of the Eagles defense, and this could be the year he really makes a name for himself around the league.

His injury history had been a major concern, but if he can follow up and play in all 16 games again this season, he could jump into the next tier of linebackers.

Hicks always seems to be around the football, his five interceptions last year are tied with Bill Bergey (5 in 1974) for the 4th-highest total in team history by a non-defensive back and the most since William Thomas had 7 in 1995.  Furthermore, according to Elias Sports Bureau, Hicks is the first NFL LB with 11+ takeaways (7 INTs, 4 FRs) in his first 24 career games since Jack Ham (1971-72).

In the Eagles season finale win over the Cowboys last season, Hicks had two interceptions in that game, and was asked about his knack for always being around the ball.

“Instincts? I don’t know, man," Hicks laughed. "I think sometimes the ball comes your way. Sometimes you know it’s coming."

Or sometimes you're well prepared.

"He also has a good understanding of not just his place in the defense, but the entire scheme," Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said before the Eagles season finale last season. "He literally is the quarterback of our defense and makes a lot of checks and [does] things that go unnoticed."

"He's a good pass defender. He has good eyes for the football," Schwartz continued. "His interceptions have come from keying the quarterback and making plays."

I always talk on the Sports Bash about having a player on defense the other team has to game-plan for, and how the Eagles defense has really lacked that type of player since Brian Dawkins has left. They really haven't had a guy who can change the game because he is on the field like Dawkins could.

If Hicks continues to stay healthy and make plays, he might be the guy that other teams need to game-plan for, which opens things up for everybody else.