Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bears All-22 Lab: DL Akiem Hicks

Detailed All-22 film analysis of new Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, an exceptionally powerful defender with uncanny quickness.

The Chicago Bears on Sunday added former Patriots DL Akiem Hicks to the roster. A hulking 6-5, 326-pound interior defender, Hicks is expected to provide a boost to the defensive line commensurate with his size. 

Yet what exactly do the Bears have in Hicks? 

I went to the film room to find out. 

Play I

On this snap, Hicks is pursuing from the back side on a zone-block run against the Broncos. Notice the weak-side tackle positioning himself for a cut block. 

The tackle dives at Hicks' legs, yet he uses his hands to drive the blocker into the ground. 

Hicks then deftly jumps around the block, keeping his balance in the process, and lands in the path of the ball carrier. 

Hicks makes the tackle for a 1-yard loss. 

Analysis: Here we get a taste of Hicks' quickness and balance. He's a massive player, yet he has decent agility and awareness. We see it on this play, as he feels the cut block coming, uses his hands and arms to keep the blocker from his body, and still tracks down the running back. 

Play II

On this snap, the Broncos will double team Hicks off the snap with both the center and the right guard. 

Here we see Hicks taking on the double team. Throughout this snap, he doesn't get pushed back a single inch. 

The right guard peels off toward the linebacker, which leaves Hicks one-on-one with the center. Notice his right arm, which is driving the blocker's head backward. Also notice Hicks' eyes, which are tracking the ball carrier. 

Hicks quickly disengages from the block and makes the tackle in the hole. The play goes for 2 yards. 

Analysis: Hicks lines up at nose guard on this snap and uses leverage and power to stabilize against the double team. Once the guard splits to the second level, Hicks uses arm extension to throw the center off balance, which allows him to shed the block and make the tackle.

Play III

Here again we see Hicks at nose tackle being double teamed off the ball. Notice his feet are touching the 20-yard line. 

The guard peels to the linebacker, leaving Hicks matched up against the center. Notice Hicks' feet have not moved an inch backward. 

Hicks rides the center down the line and fills the hole. This causes the runner to cut left. Hicks then quickly pushes the blocker backward and disengages. Notice his feet, which are still on the 20-yard line. 

Hicks bursts into the running line, dives over a teammate and makes the tackle after no gain. Notice the center, who is enjoying the view. 

Analysis: This is an impressive snap by Hicks, who fights through the double team, pushes the blocker into the hole, sheds the block and makes a diving tackle. This is a 326-pound nose guard moving and reacting like a player 50 pounds lighter than him. 

Play IV

This is a shotgun draw in which the Texans try to block Hicks one-on-one with the left guard. Hicks is going to shoot the gap. 

Hicks uses a rip move to gain leverage, which puts the blocker immediately on his heels. 

Hicks drives up-field into the path of the running back. The guard uses his right arm to hook Hicks in a futile attempt to keep him out of the backfield. 

Hicks wraps up the running back for a 1-yard loss. Notice the guard, who has to lift his arms in order to avoid a holding penalty. 

Analysis: Hicks uses great leverage and burst on this play. He fires off the ball and immediately gets his pads under the guard's pads. He then uses his lower body to drive into the backfield before making the tackle for loss. 

Play V

The Texans set up an A-gap run and double team Hicks at the snap. Notice his heels are on the 42-yard line. 

Hicks takes on the double team and keeps his hips underneath him, not allowing himself to be driven backward. His heels are still on the 42-yard line. 

Once the guard clears to the second level, Hicks extends his right arm into the chest of the left guard and shifts his body into the hole. Notice he never moved off the 42-yard line.

Hicks drags down the running back after a 2-yard gain. 

Analysis: Once again we see Hicks use both upper and lower body strength to fight off a double team. He then extends his arms and drives the blocker backward before bursting into the hole and making the tackle. This is a quality snap. 

Play VI

This is a straight five-step drop by Houston QB Brian Hoyer. The Texans will attempt to single block Hicks with the center. Notice Hicks has already driven his hands into the chest of the blocker. 

Hick yanks the center forward and uses a swim move to fly right past him. 

Hicks dumps the center and has a clear path to the quarterback. 

Hicks closes on Hoyer, forcing a quick throw, which he's able to knock down for the incompletion. 

Analysis: This is an impressive pass rush. Hicks uses arm extension at the snap, then rips the center forward and tosses him to the side. He swims past the block and closes on the quarterback, which forces the incompletion. This is a move often seen from much smaller 3-technique defensive tackles. 

Play VII

Hicks is being double teamed so thoroughly off the ball, we can barely see him in this shot. The play will be an A-gap run to the right side. 

The right guard peels off to the second level. Notice Hicks using brute strength to twist the center's body away from the hole. He now has control of the situation. 

Hicks adjust his body into the hole and wraps up the ball carrier after a 1-yard gain, even with the center still trying to block him. 

Analysis: This is a clear example of Hicks' power. He eats up the double team, holds his ground, and manhandles the center. He then shifts his weight toward the running back and stuffs the play. 


On our final snap, Hicks is lined up over the right guard. Titans QB Marcus Mariota will drop back to pass out of shotgun formation. 

Hicks drives up-field on the outside shoulder of the right guard. He uses his hands to create separation, never allowing the blocker to lock onto him. 

Hicks drops his inside shoulder and buries it underneath the blocker's pads before driving his way into the backfield. Mariota is forced to step up into the pocket. 

Mariota climbs the pocket. Hicks reacts by quickly changing directions. Notice the right guard, who is entirely out of his element and in no position to cut off the inside rush. 

Hicks closes the pocket and takes Mariota down for the sack. 

Analysis: Hicks isn't an elite pass rusher but he shows flashes on plays like these. When he gains leverage, he's impossible to stop. He knows how to use his hands to keep blockers off balance, before overpowering them with brute force. On this snap, he even shows off his change-of-direction ability, which is very impressive for a defender of his size. 


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