Seahawks Draft: A versatile WSU Cougars standout on defense

Apr 6, 2024, 12:05 PM

Seattle Seahawks NFL Draft Jaden Hicks...

Jaden Hicks of the Washington State Cougars intercepts a pass against Washington on Nov. 25, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Seattle Seahawks will look very different at safety this season.

Both Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs were released earlier this offseason — though both remain unsigned — and Seattle signed Rayshawn Jenkins to start at safety alongside Julian Love, who signed with the Seahawks last offseason and made the 2023 Pro Bowl.

Love and Jenkins are versatile players, but both are more traditional safeties than Adams was.

Adams, when healthy, typically moved around the field for Seattle’s defense, lining up in the box or on the edge as a blitzer.

If the Seahawks want to add another versatile safety to the mix, they have an opportunity to do so in a few weeks with the 2024 NFL Draft starting.

Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy were joined by Pro Football Focus draft analyst Trevor Sikkema, and former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus asked if there are any “Jamal Adams-type safeties” in this draft. Bump mentioned one prospect from his alma mater of WSU: Jaden Hicks.

Sikkema called Hicks, an All-Pac-12 honorable mention in 2023, “awesome” and “a really good defender.”

Sikkema pointed to a Seattle Times profile of Hicks where the young defensive back said he questioned at one point if he was good enough to play Division-1 football after moving from corner in high school to safety at WSU.

“He was so overwhelmed as a freshman and as the article highlighted, he even questioned whether or not he could play at the D-1 level. And he was like, ‘I don’t even know if I’m good enough to do this.’ And to answer that question, he kind of said, ‘No, no, no, I am good enough to do this and I’ve just got to get better. I’ve got to work out harder,'” Sikkema said. “He got in the film room, he became a great communicator, great anticipator and because of that, you saw that athleticism, that former corner athleticism shine from him, but he’ll also come down and make some tackles for you.”

Sikkema doesn’t think Hicks is someone to play as a single-high safety, but that he can be a good starter on the back-end because of his skillset and what the NFL is trending towards defensively.

“With the league going a lot more towards two-high shells anyways, he’s certainly got the range to be good in a two-high set and you could bring him down into the box a little bit and have him more towards the line of scrimmage,” he said. “And like I mentioned, he’s a really good back-end communicator. So I think that he’s somebody who could kind of fill that role – obviously Jamal Adams was a top-10 pick – so it’s tough to kind of project a guy who I think is going to go second or third round to necessarily that. But he is definitely somebody that I like.”

If the Seahawks are looking for a different versatile safety, Sikkema brought up a different Pac-12 standout: Sioni Vaki from Utah.

“I think he’s a really good athlete. He’s somebody who also played running back at Utah. He was so athletic, they wanted to get him on the offensive side of things and he actually performed pretty well,” Sikkema said. “(On defense) he’ll come up and hit you. He’s a really nice box safety, strong safety guy who kind of come down from that top spot and make some good tackles for you. High-energy player, good athlete.”

Listen to Bump and Stacy’s full conversation with Pro Football Focus’ Trevor Sikkema at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

More on the Seattle Seahawks and the NFL Draft

• New potential NFL Draft trade partner for Seattle Seahawks
• Have things changed for Seahawks’ Schneider without Carroll?
• Who’s the best non-OL pick for Seattle Seahawks at No. 16?
• Huard’s Seahawks Draft Profile: Under-the-radar WR
• ESPN’s Matt Miller dives into Seahawks draft fits and connections
• Seahawks’ Schneider: O-line ‘not an area that’s being ignored’
• Which NFL team is best fit for UW Huskies QB Michael Penix Jr.?
• Brock’s Seahawks Draft Profile: A difference-making guard

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