2024 NFL Draft: Washington State safety Jaden Hicks scouting report

A three-star prospect out of Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Hicks got a bit of action as a true freshman for the Cougars in 2021, and really started to make an impact as a box/slot player in 2022 with 60 solo tackles, 18 stops, one sack, eight total pressures, and one tackle for loss. Hicks was a work in progress as a coverage defender that season (33 catches allowed on 41 targets for 410 yards, 188 yards after the catch, three touchdowns, one interception, four pass breakups, and an opponent passer rating of 122.6), but he saw improvement in that department in 2023, when he allowed 20 catches on 31 targets for 170 yards, 129 yards after the catch, two touchdowns, two interceptions, four pass breakups, and an opponent passer rating of 73.3.

Hicks isn’t your traditional deep-third safety, but he could make a lot of noise in an NFL defense where he isn’t penalized for that, and he can roam as a downfield weapon in big-nickel looks and dime stuff.


— Box/slot enforcer with great size (6′ 1⅞”, 211 pounds) who comes down with bad intentions.

— Has the straight-line and match speed to work with receivers from the flat to up the seam.

— Has a nice sense of how to work through blocks to create tackles for loss from between the tackles to the boundary, and he can come down from the deep third quickly to erase run plays and pressure quarterbacks.


— Change of direction is an issue; Hicks can be stiff in his transitions and is much better as a guided missile where he can get a bead on his target and go.

— Will get over-exuberant as his target gets near, leading to some whiffs in the open field.

— Needs to adjust more quickly to changing responsibilities in zone coverage.

— Hicks will need a better plan against blocks in the open field if he wants to be a consistent stopper in the box.

— Recovery speed is average, and this shows up too often when he’s on the move or in deep-third coverage.

Hicks isn’t what I would call a traditional deep-third safety in coverage, but if you need a guy to come down and rock it in the box, he is absolutely that. A good player for heavy big-nickel teams, and he can work as a dime linebacker, too.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire