The second player from the defensive line that we will focus on is Akiem Hicks. Unlike Goldman, Hicks did not come through the draft but came in as a free agent this past offseason. Hicks entered the league in 2012 via the New Orleans Saints who drafted him in the third round. Hicks played his college ball (following some transfer difficulty) in Regina which is in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Hicks was traded from the Saints to the New England Patriots in 2015. He played well in his time with New England but the Patriots decided not to retain him beyond last season. As a result, he became a free agent and signed with the Bears last March.
His start in Chicago was a little rough. He was fined just over eighteen thousand dollars for a helmet to helmet hit on Philadelphia Eagles rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. But after that miscue, his arrow would always point up and he would rise to be a force on that defensive line.
With each game, Hicks has repeatedly gotten better and more productive. His most productive game as a Bears, to date, was against the San Francisco 49ers. Against the 49ers, he recorded 10 tackles, two sacks and forced a fumble. For that effort, he was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
With another sack against the Lions last Sunday, Hicks brought his season total seven. Not only is Hicks a productive player but he’s also a leader and an inspiration to his teammates. If you have seen him play in person, you will notice that he is constantly chatting up his teammates and patting them on the back. When defensive players require a little extra help from the crowd, he swings his arms and motions for the crowd to get louder. He is a nearly well-rounded player.
Health has been kind to Hicks this season and he has been spot on in almost every game he has played. He has been a welcome addition to the Bears and one of the better performers. It’s not out of the question to think that he could even get a Pro Bowl nod for what he has done in 2016.
Pace has done well by Hicks. Now if he can just bring a few more players to the Bears like that, this team could become very good. Maybe someday soon, this defensive line will be back to being “scary” again.