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2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Washington State S Jaden Hicks

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From now until the 2024 NFL Draft takes place, we will scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, a scouting report on Washington State S Jaden Hicks.

#25 Jaden Hicks/S Washington State – 6-3, 212 pounds (Redshirt Sophomore)

MEASUREMENTS

Player Ht/Wt Hand Size Arm Length Wingspan
Jaden Hicks 6030/212 N/A N/A N/A
40-Yard Dash 10-Yard Dash Short Shuttle 3-Cone
N/A N/A N/A N/A
Broad Jump Vertical Bench Press
N/A N/A N/A

THE GOOD

-Longer frame; has ability to close passing windows and matchups against taller pass catchers
-Outstanding range working downhill and toward the sideline
-Incredible moments in the run game; possesses great mix of physicality, range and tenacity
-Experience playing on the roof, in the slot and on second level
-Explosive power on contact; consistently disrupts the catch point
-Nose for the football; knack for always being in the right place
-Good overall athlete; smooth hips and explosiveness
-Imposing presence for a defense; consistently sets the tone 

THE BAD

-Has some missed tackles on film; goes for knockout hits instead of wrapping too often
-Can get fooled against play-action
-Only average long speed and range from depth 

BIO

-Started 23 career games for the Cougars
-Selected to participate in 2024 Reese’s Senior Bowl
-In his career, Hicks recorded 155 total tackles, eight tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, three interceptions, 13 pass breakups and a blocked kick
-Recorded 79 total tackles, six tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions and seven pass breakups in 2023
-Freshman All-American selection in 2022
-Attended Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, Nev.
-Rated as a three-star recruit by ESPN, 247Sports and Rivals
-Senior season was canceled due to Covid-19
-Older brother Kalen played defensive back at Hawaii (2016-19) 

TAPE BREAKDOWN

Possessing an outstanding blend of size, length and movement skills, Hicks is a very versatile player on the back end of a defense. For a creative defensive coordinator, he presents a lot of possibilities. There is upside for him to become a moveable chess piece, playing various roles. 

It all starts with Hicks’ impact on the run game, and he has shown that can come from a variety of alignments. On this particular rep, Hicks is lined up in the left slot as a rolled-down safety. He quickly diagnoses the outside run, works to the alley and comes up to make an impressive play in space against a hard runner in Carson Steele. 

Hicks is the type of player who always makes his presence known. As the safety on the backside of this run to the field, he isn’t able to get involved in the play early. You do get to see his range, which allows him to work to the opposite sideline for a massive hit. 

Although he is a safety by trade, Hicks did spend a lot of time working on the second level. On this rep, he is on the weak side and quickly reads the run into the boundary. Once Hicks sees the action, he gets downhill in a hurry. There is a lot of upside for him as a dime linebacker at the next level. 

Washington State almost used Hicks as a mismatch nightmare. Here he is playing in the short-zone area, moving inside with the short motion. From there, Hicks blitzes and creates a quick pressure on the quarterback. That impact as a blitzer is littered all over his film. His closing speed and length make Hicks an asset in this department. 

Although Hicks has just average long speed, he does have really nice short-area explosiveness and range due to his stride length. Washington tries to create some misdirection on this play, coming back with a reverse to the field. Hicks began on the backside of the play but stayed patient, saw the reverse action and ranged to the sideline. That is a tremendous, and difficult, play to make in space. 

Hicks also does have some nice moments in pass coverage. His zone impact is a little bit of a question mark but there are plenty of man-coverage reps that get you very excited. Hicks is matched up in the right slot to start the play. The wide receiver runs a slot fade, Hicks sticking with him stride for stride. It is a 50-50 ball situation, and you see Hicks able to finish the play at the catch point for an interception. 

There isn’t a lot of evidence of Hicks making a lot of plays on the ball in zone coverage. You do, however; get moments of him flashing his physicality in the middle of the field. Here, as the safety to the boundary, he reads the play and delivers a massive shot working back to the middle of the field for a pass breakup. 

Will that physicality and impact on the run game translate? Judging by Hicks’ game against Wisconsin, it will without a question. Here he meets 6-2, 240-pound Braelon Allen in the hole and stones the powerful running back. Hicks consistently comes to balance as a tackler and brings his pads with him. 

As the safety to the wide side of the field, Hicks is challenged in space off the swing screen. There is a lot of space to cover, and Hicks closes it down quickly. He finishes with a great tackle in space for a huge play. 

The biggest area of improvement in Hicks’ game will have to be him becoming a more patient player on the back end. Too often he is fooled by play-action and tries to get downhill and active too quickly. That can pull him out of position in the passing game. He also does have some moments of missed tackles on film, going for the kill shot too often. 

CONCLUSION

There aren’t many safeties in the 2024 class who present as much versatility as Hicks. For a creative defensive coordinator, he can line up at multiple spots on the second and third level of a defense. Hicks has the combination of size, length, physicality and smoothness to develop into a starter down the road. He could be an impact player in the right situation. 

Projection: Late Day Two
Depot Draft Grade: 7.6 – Potential Starter/Good Backup (Third Round)
Games Watched: vs Washington (2023), vs Wisconsin (2023), vs UCLA (2023) 

 





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