This pick is certainly a surprise. The Eagles weren't really connected to Hicks leading up to the draft.
It's also a surprise because Philadelphia is already loaded at inside linebacker. The team gave a contract extension to veteran linebacker DeMeco Ryans after trading LeSean McCoy for Kiko Alonso early in the offseason. The drafting of Hicks will do nothing to dispel the reports that the Eagles are shopping Mychal Kendricks for a draft pick.
Hicks ranked 201st on SB Nation's Top 300 prospects.
Here's a scouting report via Burnt Orange Nation. As noted below, the linebacker has a significant injury history.
Despite all the injuries, including a torn Achilles that ended his junior season against Kansas State in the season's fourth game, Hicks still managed to maintain most or perhaps even all of the athleticism that made him such an elite prospect out of high school. As a result, once he became comfortable in Strong's schemes, he was able to create the interceptions that eluded him until this season.
In fact, showing scouts his coverage versatility was a major priority for Hicks at the Texas Pro Timing Day.
"Just showing them my movement and my ability to be a smooth linebacker," Hicks said in March. "A big thing now is being a three-down linebacker, and that's something I'm trying to show that I can play every single play, play the run, play the pass, and can show my ability to move.
On two critical occasions against West Virginia last fall, the Mountaineers were able to isolate Hicks in coverage across the middle, once against star wide receiver Kevin White, but Hicks was able to make the tackle both times. Other than the interceptions, those plays represented some of the highlights for the Texas linebacker in coverage, as both came in the red zone.
A look at Hicks also reveals the type of work ethic that he possesses behind the scenes. How else would he recover so quickly from his Achilles injury to post historically-significant agility times at the NFL Scouting Combine? As he did as a 220-pounder out of high school, Hicks simply looks like an NFL linebacker.
It's also hard to argue with his production as a senior -- even star linebacker Derrick Johnson never managed to rack up the number of tackles that Hicks recorded in 2014. Though Hicks isn't a big-time striker from the linebacker position, he simply doesn't make miss many tackles. The agility from his testing numbers also shows up on film, as Hicks has the range to make plays from sideline to sideline. He's at his best when able to use his diagnostic abilities and athleticism to shoot gaps and make plays before offensive linemen can engage him.
Eagles remaining needs
Eagles remaining draft picks
2015 NFL Draft schedule:
Thursday, April 30 - 8:00 PM EST (Round 1 - 10 minutes per pick)
Friday, May 1 - 7:00 PM EST (Round 2 - 7 minutes, Round 3 - 5 minutes)
Saturday, May 2 - 12 PM EST (Rounds 4-6 - 5 Minutes Per Pick, Round 7 - 4 Minutes Per Pick)
TV schedule: NFL Network and ESPN will televise the draft.