Former WSU safety Jaden Hicks taken by Kansas City Chiefs in 4th round of NFL draft

Apr. 27—PULLMAN — For the third straight year, Washington State has a player selected in the NFL draft.

The first Cougar off the board this year is former safety Jaden Hicks, who was drafted in the fourth round Saturday by the Kansas City Chiefs, who used the 133rd overall pick to take the All-Pac-12 honorable mention selection from last season.

Hicks redshirted his freshman season and played two seasons at WSU. Last year, he totaled 76 tackles, four passes defended, 2.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble and two interceptions, one against Washington and a pick-six against Colorado State.

A Las Vegas native, the 6-foot-2 Hicks checked in as the No. 59 player and fourth-best safety on ESPN's 2024 NFL draft rankings. Last year, the strong safety finished with a Pro Football Focus coverage grade of 81.8, which ranked seventh among Pac-12 safeties. He gave up 21 receptions on 32 targets.

He's headed to the Kansas City Chiefs, the back-to-back Super Bowl champions, who knocked off San Francisco in February and Philadelphia the year prior.

Hicks is also the second defensive back in the past two years to be selected by the Chiefs, who also drafted former WSU defensive back Jaylen Watson in the 2022 draft.

"Hicks can line up over the slot and high, but he is at his best playing close to the line of scrimmage," ESPN's Steve Muench wrote of Hicks. "He is effective matching up with backs and tight ends and dropping into underneath zone when he lines up at linebacker depth.

"Hicks is a rangy run-defender who fills gaps and flashes the ability to disrupt plays in the backfield. He also can pluck the ball out of the air and is competitive in 50-50 situations."

Hicks is also the first WSU defensive back to be drafted since Watson . Prior, the last WSU defensive back to hear his name called was Shalom Luani, who was selected in the seventh round (No. 221 overall) by the then-Oakland Raiders in 2017.

At last month's NFL combine, Hicks registered 4.37 seconds in the shuttle, 37 1/2 -inch vertical jump and 10-2 broad jump, which helped boost his stock in the draft. At pro day, which WSU held at Idaho's Kibbie Dome while its facility is under construction, Hicks ran a 4.49-second 40-yard dash.