The Philadelphia Eagles saw another year of change in 2016, from top to bottom. After a year of many ups and downs, the Eagles are a team filled with holes and a need for difference makers, both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
Despite these needs, one thing can be checked off the list. A playmaker at the Linebacker position. They have Jordan Hicks to thank for this. Also known as “Simba” to fans, Hicks built on the sensational rookie season he had in 2015. But the question becomes, do the Eagles already have a top-10 LB in Hicks?
In his first 24 games (21 starts), Hicks has been a weapon for the defense both against the run and in pass coverage. With 135 total tackles, 2 sacks, a whopping 7-interceptions (one returned for TD), 1 forced fumble and 4 fumble recoveries, Hicks has been a stud.
In his first career sack, he broke QB Tony Romo’s shoulder and forced a fumble that would be recovered by DT Fletcher Cox. He would later solidify his legend that game with a pick-6 that would prove to be enough to help win the game. Despite his great play, Hicks would suffer a season ending injury just a few drives later, tearing his pectoral muscle and starting the conversation about injury issues that have plagued his career since college.
Coming out of high school, Hicks was considered one of the best LB Prospects going into college, where he chose to enroll at the University of Texas. Hicks would prove to be a solid player, but injuries would delay his growth causing him to fall down the Draft board.
After going 84th overall in his rookie year, Hicks would quickly show Eagles fans the type of player he could be. The signs of a potential star were there as early as preseason, before going on to become a tackling machine in 2015.
The 2016 season saw a new scheme for Hicks and without Mufasa (DeMeco Ryans) alongside him, the former Texas standout showed his true colors as he became the full time leader of the defense and continued his trend upwards as the season went on. Many worried that the transition to a 4-3 could hurt Hicks, but playing alongside Bradham has only highlighted his abundance of talent.
At 6’1, 236 lbs , Hicks has the size to play inside and the speed and coverage ability to play outside (Where some analysts think he would be more effective. Being able to take away the Tight-End in the pass, and bare down on the run, Hicks has been nothing short of amazing in his early career.
The question we asked is whether or not Jordan Hicks a top-10 LB already. We don’t know the answer to that, but as we look around the league, you could make a really good argument for him. Still at 24 years old, he has room to grow and develop his skill set even more under the tenacious Jim Schwartz and his 2016 season stats show a player who already plays at a pro-bowl level.
You could argue it both ways, but what you can’t argue, is that in Jordan Hicks, the Eagles have a young leader with excellent play-making ability, that should be a staple of Philadelphia sports for years to come.