Chicago Bears Free Agency Wish List: Defensive Line

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /
4 of 5
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports
Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports /

Depth with Upside

DE Akiem Hicks, Patriots – One of the first draft picks of new Bears GM Adam Pace when he was with the Saints in 2012 and it was a risky one taking a massive but raw D-linemen from Manitoba, Canada. After sitting out most of his first season, Hicks showed some flashes of elite power and explosiveness in his 2nd & 3rd seasons with the Saints, starting all but two games and racking up 105 tackles and 6.5 sacks. Once Pace left last season and Hicks got off to a slow start he was shipped to the Patriots for back-up TE Michael Hoomanawanui in one of the most lop-sided trade deadline deals.

Hicks was a force for the Patriots as a rotational d-linemen and showed both power to anchor as a 5-tech against the run and surprising pass rush ability with three sacks in limited playing time. When Hicks is fresh and motivated he can use his 6’5, 318 pound frame, elite strength, and explosive first step to just over power blockers and toss them aside to blow up plays in the backfield.

Pace has insinuated that his biggest draft mistake was taking a player at a position of need (Hicks) over the player he had rated higher on his board (T.Y. Hilton who went three picks later), but if Pace liked Hicks enough to take a chance on his potential back in 2012 than you’d have to think that Pace would be even more interested now that Hicks has started to show some of his elite potential last season. The fact that the Bears have a DC in Vic Fangio who is known for developing talented but raw d-linemen, it seems like a chance for Pace to justify his pick of Hicks and Fangio to do what he does best in developing a still young (26) d-linemen.

With Bears 2014 2nd round pick Ego Ferguson coming off a serious injury and still not established as 3-down player, Hicks could be an ideal complement if not a replacement for Ferguson at the other 5-tech position. If the Bears could somehow add Howard, Williams, and Hicks to the young d-line core of Eddie Goldman and Ferguson, than the Bears could have the makings of a young, powerful, and potentialy dominant defensive line if the young players continue to develop.

Projected contract: 2-yrs, $9M 

Next: Other D-Line Options