Eagles May Have Finally Found the Face of Their Defense
When the Eagles selected Jordan Hicks with the 84th pick in the 2015 draft, it was a surprise pick to many, as the Eagles were already well-stocked at the inside linebacker position with Mychal Kendricks, DeMeco Ryans and Kiko Alonso.
The former third-round pick has found a home as the quarterback of the Eagles defense.
Hicks was second-team All-Big 12 weak-side linebacker as a senior at the University of Texas, making 28 starts for the Longhorns. During his tenure at Texas, Hicks showed playmaking ability, with 24 career tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, and two interceptions.
Hicks was drafted by the Eagles in the third round in 2015 and thrown into the fire after Alonso injured his knee, but a torn pectoral in Week 9 derailed a promising rookie campaign that featured 50 tackles, one sack, two interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
In his first regular season as the full-time starter, Hicks excelled again, showing glimpses of what he could be in the middle of the Eagles defense. Hicks finished his second season with 85 tackles, one sack, five interceptions and a fumble recovery. In the Eagles season finale victory over the Cowboys, Hicks registered two interceptions to bring his season total to a team-leading, career-high five, the most by any NFL linebacker in 2016.
"He also has a good understanding of not just his place in the defense, but the entire scheme," Eagles defensive coordinator said about Hicks leading up to the Dallas game.
"He literally is the quarterback of our defense and makes a lot of checks and [does] things that go unnoticed. He's had a really good year. Some of his contributions maybe go a little bit below the radar, but I don't know if that’s a whole lot different than other middle linebackers. But he very rarely does the wrong thing. Let's put it that way."
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Hicks is now the first NFL linebacker with 11+ takeaways (7 INTs, 4 FRs) in his first 24 career games since Jack Ham (1971-72).
With plenty of questions surrounding the team this offseason, Hicks has given the Eagles a face they can build around on the defensive side of the ball.