NFL Draft Q&A With DE Justin Hickman

Does your team have a crying need for a guy that can terrorize the opponent's quarterback? Then maybe Justin Hickman will be heading your way following this year's NFL Draft. Learn more about the Pac-10's sacks and tackles for loss leader in his exclusive interview with's Ed Thompson.

Ed Thompson: Tell the fans that might not have seen UCLA play this year about your defensive scheme. What were you primarily running?

Justin Hickman: We really didn't change much from last year, just a 4-3. The only thing that was different was a new attitude that coach Walker brought in. He didn't care who had to play- scholarship or non-scholarship - you were going to do what he taught and we were going to play hard and hit people. That's what we went out there and did. We played the 4-3 and even though we blitzed a little more than we had in the past, but we were all just getting after it.

ET: You were in the East/West Shrine game. What did you learn from that experience, was that fun you?

JH: It's fun playing with the big names and meeting the guys. You can compare things from workouts, how you did this or how you did that. Meet the guys and go through the interviews with NFL teams and filling out questionnaires and stuff. Playing the game is different. On the defensive line we rotate every five plays, usually I play till I'm tired - it was hard to get into a groove that way. You have to make your plays when they come.

ET: How did your Combine experience go?

JH: Man, it was a meat market. The first two days are filled with medical and doctor work. Fly in the third day and the first three hours you're at the doctor getting blood drawn, urine tests and x-rays…going through medical history with your doctors. The next day you're up at 5:30 or 6 a.m. to go to the RCA Dome and meet with team doctors. You meet with every team doctor and they all do the same thing and poke and pull on you. They ask you about your medical history, look at your x-rays and see where you've got problems. Anywhere you have nicks they pull on it and test it. The next day, you do the Wonderlic Test and bench and then Monday you do all your testing and they get you out of there.

ET: How did you feel about your testing out on the field?

JH: I feel like I did pretty well. Everyone wants their numbers to be the best of the best so I mean, I could improve in everything.

Justin Hickman fights through a block to force a fumble (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

ET: Were you getting the impression that a fair number of these teams were looking at you at linebacker rather than defensive end?

JH: Obviously I know that in a 3-4 scheme I'm going to play outside linebacker. I'm not 6-foot-6, 290 pounds so when I met with 3-4 teams like the Dolphins, the Chargers and the Texans I know they're looking at me to play outside linebacker. That's just the way it is. Most of those 3-4 teams, their linebackers are like a standup defensive end, they'll rush the passer and they'll drop.

ET: Having two coaches at UCLA that came from NFL teams--Jacksonville and Washington--are those two teams showing some interest in you? 

JH: I've sat down with the Jaguars before and they mentioned how Coach Howard had said some good things about me. 

ET: What do you think has been an important component of your success to date?

JH: Preparation is the most important thing really. My dad always said "proper preparation prevents piss-poor performance." Being prepared is the most important thing and if you're prepared and ready to go, you'll be successful.

ET: If you had all the teams lined up in front of you, what would you want to say to them?

JH: I'm a highly athletic, high motor, extremely hard-working guy who has the ability to play two positions between defensive end and outside linebacker. I'm highly intelligent with the ability to pick up any scheme and dissect any problem put in front of me with the will, ambition and desire to succeed, because I'm all about winning. That's the most important thing to me. I'd probably say another thing is I hate to lose more than I like to win. I'd do anything for a 'W' really, anything necessary, whether it be special teams, kicking the ball, anything that they put me in to do I'd be willing to do for a shot to play.

ET: Is there anything else you'd like the fans to know?

JH: I hope I can be a high-impact guy to where I'll be a fan favorite in the NFL.

If you missed the first half of this interview with Justin Hickman, click here. And you can learn more about him by visiting his player profile page.

A member of the Professional Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's NFL and college football player interviews and features have been published across the network and syndicated through's NFL team pages.

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