The Chicago Bears selected Cal safety Elijah Hicks in the seventh round of the 2022 NFL draft. Hicks marks the second safety selected by General Manager Ryan Poles; Penn State’s Jaquan Brisker was Chicago’s second-round pick, No. 48 overall.
Hicks was a darling of Pro Football Focus’ grading scale in 2021, earning an 89.4 season grade. He’s a versatile secondary prospect who registered over 200 coverage snaps in the slot in 2021. He’s stuffed the stat sheet during his time as a Golden Bear with 46 starts on his resume. Whether his ceiling is maxed out as a good college player with little NFL upside is worth monitoring.
Hicks’ best chance at having an NFL career will come via special teams. However, his ball production and reliability on the field give him a chance to be a surprise contributor on defense at some point in his career. He’s also a good dude off the field, and for a team in the middle of a rebuild like the Bears, you can’t have enough high-character players like him.
This selection earns a C+ grade. Hicks, at worst, will level up the rest of the Bears’ safeties in training camp practices. And even if he ends up as a practice squad player, his impact on the field in Matt Eberflus’ first training camp makes this pick one worth making.