How will Akiem Hicks fare in his first game against the team that drafted him?
Through three and a half years of his career, Akiem Hicks had been labeled a bust. The third round pick was a rotational player on the New Orleans Saints defense and was benched halfway through his year four. He was traded to the Patriots, where he showed just enough in half of a season to catch the Bears eye. From there, he has turned into an All-Pro talent.
When Hicks was drafted, the Saints defensive coordinator was Rob Ryan. While Ryan struggled as a whole, Hicks was a scheme fit. After a limited rookie season, Hicks put up 4.5 sacks in his second season. Some injury issues affected his third season, but it also ended Ryan’s tenure in New Orleans.
More from Bear Goggles On
- Franchise tag and transition tag windows open for Chicago Bears and NFL
- How the Chicago Bears can control the running back market in 2023
- The Chicago Bears can own the city of Chicago moving forward
- Chicago Bears NFL Combine Preview: Quarterback
- 7 best free agent tackle options for Chicago Bears
Current defensive coordinator Dennis Allen came in and turned a 3-4 into a 4-3 front. This changed Hicks role completely.
In an interview he with Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, he talked about his issue fitting into a role in the new scheme, that pushed him out to the edge at times.
"I was pegged as only a run stopper and I was told that to my face: ‘You’re not going to a pass rusher in this league. You’re just going to be a run stopper.’“You never want to hear that and I think, for me, I let it get into my psyche. I let myself say, ‘Well, OK, maybe I do just need to focus on the run.’ And I would only go in on first and second downs in New Orleans a lot of the time. At a certain point I showed promise in the pass rush and that confidence of being a good pass rusher, they didn’t see that in me.”In his new role, and with new life in Chicago, he has turned into so much more than New Orleans has anticipated from him. Last season Hicks had career highs in every statistical measure, and this season is on pace to shatter those marks."
When Hicks heads back to the Superdome, there is no doubt he will have an added motivation.