Trying to Make Sense of Drafting Jordan Hicks
You should be questioning the selection by Philadelphia of Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks.
The Eagles just drafted a player who was sent home from the 2012 Alamo Bowl from his college team at Texas after breaking curfew. Secondly, he was suspended from the Longhorns bowl game this year when a sexual assault investigation was conducted, but no charges were filed.
This doesn't automatically make him a bad guy - he has been described as another coach on the field and a young man of great character - but it's definitely something fans should be aware of. Obviously, Eagles head coach Chip Kelly felt comfortable selecting Hicks after talking to him and the Texas coaches.
"Talked to all their coaches and talked to Jordan and everybody involved in it," Kelly explained. "He gave his version of the story and we understand what happened and he got suspended and missed the game and that was the punishment that he had for that."
The Eagles were reported to have taken multiple players off their draft board this year because of incidents. The fact they didn't take Hicks off their board isn't necessarily about his talent but about the conclusions the team drew in its investigation of him.
"We are very comfortable with him," Eagles head coach Chip Kelly said. "We do it (research) with all of our players, so it doesn't matter what the area is. We hope we leave no stone unturned. But as I said, we had the most exposure to this player than any player in the draft in terms of our contacts with him."
In light of the increased attention, the Eagles' selection of Hicks should be examined. They are vouching for him, not just that he didn't have anything to do with this incident, but that he won't do anything similar in the future. This is not a reclamation project. It is not a redemption story. Rather, it represents Philadelphia's belief that Hicks did not do what he was accused of and that is not part of his character.
“Me and a teammate, we made a mistake," Hicks said during his conference call on Friday night after being selected. "Obviously I took full responsibility and ended up speaking to the team afterwards and I apologized. The suspension, ultimately, was because I missed curfew. Again, I’ve learned from it, I’m moving forward, I’m enjoying this moment, I’m so blessed to be here, that’s far in my past and I’m moving forward.”
So in the end the Eagles felt comfortable with not only Hicks character but also his injury history which is extensive. He missed time do to both Hip and Achilles injuries during his time at Texas.
"He did have an Achilles and a hip but he's played," Kelly acknowledged. "He's been 100 percent cleared in everything, going through all the medical stuff they do at the Combine, had a great medical grade coming out of the Combine. Our doctors and trainers had no issues with him."
So what stood out about his ability on the field at a position where the Eagles already have a plethora of talent with all of these red flag when the Eagles have with so many other needs?
"He was our highest rated guy by far," Kelly explained. "We had him rated in the second round. He's a three‑down linebacker, can cover, is an outstanding special teams player and to be able to bring him in here and learn from [LB] DeMeco [Ryans] and [LB] Mychal [Kendricks] and [LB] Kiko [Alonso], just thought there's great value in that pick. It’s one of those when you're looking at the board, there was no one else around him that we had at that point in time."
He'll be competing with the above mentioned players, but will his arrival mean one of their departures?
"No, not at all," Kelly said when asked if anyone had called about Kendricks. "We're excited to get him back here. I know he spent the draft with his brother, which we understand. He said he should be back here next week. I think you're always going to draft players and when you bring them in here, the one thing you want is you want competition at positions."
So the Eagles have a ton of competition right now at the inside linebacker position, making Kelly feel a lot better after the way the Eagles linebacker position was decimated by injuries at the end of last season.
"We lost [Vikings LB] Casey [Matthews] and then with DeMeco coming off an injury, Mychal missed four games last year," Kelly said. "That was a real priority for us in the offseason was we need to upgrade the inside linebacker position. We felt like we've done that so far."
Chip Kelly has said he has offered any players, but for this pick to make sense he might have to - if you honestly believe he hasn't already. I understand his concern over depth, but to have four capable guys to play two linebackers spots, but still needing a corner, safety and depth on the offensive line - this seems like a very good player, who just doesn't have enough of a role.