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2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jaden Hicks (DB – Washington State)

2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jaden Hicks (DB – Washington State)

FantasyPros will be taking a look at early NFL Draft scouting reports before the Combine in March. Here’s a look at Washington State defensive back Jaden Hicks.

2024 NFL Draft Guide

2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Jaden Hicks

Jaden Hicks (DB – Washington State)

6’3″ – 212 lbs.

Background:

After redshirting in 2021, Jaden Hicks took over a starting role three games into the 2022 season where he finished with 76 tackles, an interception and six passes defensed. Reprised that role this year and had a similar line of 79-6.0-2.5 with two interceptions and four breakups.

Positives:

Productive two-year starter with excellent size for the position. Has primarily been a box safety, but took a lot of snaps as a high safety and some from the slot as well. Quick feet to get depth in his backpedal when playing high zone; shows good balance and form. Relatively smooth mover with adequate range. Looks light on his feet when working in zones. His frame is well-suited to covering bigger receivers and flex tight ends. Fast enough to carry opponents down the seams when playing in man or pattern-matching. Able to use his hands to feel routes. Does a decent job of squeezing the stem when defending against in-breaking routes. On-ball production was adequate in school and has the length to break up throws when in-phase. Willing to come up and fill in run support. Pretty good contact balance to take on stalkers and smaller tight ends. Length gives him a solid tackling radius. Flashes the ability to help set the tone by delivering hits.

Negatives:

Can struggle to process route combinations as a high safety. Gets pulled up by play fakes and misdirection. Can be frozen by window dressing at the route stem when shaded over the slot. Doesn’t do a great job of sifting through traffic to work his way to the ball when playing in the box. Would like to see more of a sense of urgency in run support. Angles in pursuit are questionable. Doesn’t break down consistently in space; over-pursues toward the boundary and runs himself out of some plays. Flexibility in his lower body looks closer to average, and combined with his height, can hurt him in the leverage battle when taking on blockers.

Summary:

A two-year starter who often played in the box in school but who temperamentally looks better-suited to playing in high zones, something he did fairly regularly in school as well. His size/length and smooth movement skills could theoretically allow him to play in a variety of roles, however, to stay on the field at the pro level he will need to improve his overall recognition skills, instincts and pursuit angles. Upside should get him looks in the middle rounds of the draft, probably for a team that favors versatility at the safety spot over clearly-defined roles.

Projection: Round 4/Round 5

More 2024 NFL Draft Prospects: Defensive Backs

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