One of the NFL’s most underrated defenders finally received some respect that was long overdue.
NFL Network started rolling out its player-voted list of 100 best players in 2019, but save for Kyle Fuller’s inclusion at No. 95, the Chicago Bears hadn’t been represented. That is, until defensive end Akiem Hicks got his due:
1. Akiem IS the man.
2. It IS about time.
3. IT IS ABOUT TIME.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) July 29, 2019
The constant snubbing of Hicks had gone on too long for my liking, so it’s a pleasure to see him check in at No. 39 on NFL Network’s top-100 list. But a more telling sign of Hicks’ rising star is the respect given to him by rival members of the Packers.
“Akiem is the man,” said ex-Packers defensive lineman Mike Daniels. “He doesn’t wear gloves. He’s got white tape. He looks like … he looks like a bear. He looks like a bear and he hits people like [growling sound].”
“Gritty, rough, ready to go all the time,” said Green Bay running back Jamaal Williams.
Since arriving in Chicago for the 2016 season, all Hicks has done is turned in one great performance after another. Since the start of the 2016 season, Hicks has 23 sacks, 116 tackles, 38 tackles-for-loss, 53 quarterback hits, 5 forced fumbles, and 3 fumble recoveries. Hicks hasn’t missed a game since joining the Bears, which goes to show he isn’t just excellent … he is durable, too! And yet, only now is Hicks making an appearance on the top-100 list.
The days of Hicks being overlooked because he is a 3-4 defensive end are probably over now. Hicks is an impact defender and a leader on a contender now, so it will be impossible for others to ignore the fact that he has averaged 8 sacks, 13 tackles-for-loss, and 18 quarterback hits over the last three seasons. Should Hicks continue to wreck opposing offensive lines and take down quarterbacks and ball-carriers alike, this won’t be the last time we see him in the top-100.