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Hicks tabbed as top 3-4 end in NFL


Bears defensive end Akiem Hicks rushes off the edge against the Steelers.

Bleacher Report has ranked Bears veteran Akiem Hicks as the best 3-4 defensive end in the NFL for the 2017 season.

Hicks led the Bears with 8.5 sacks, 15 tackles-for-loss and 20 quarterback hits while also recording 54 tackles and two fumble recoveries.

"Akiem Hicks had a breakout season in 2016, but there's a good chance you didn't know his name until he signed a four-year extension with the Chicago Bears in September," wrote scout Justis Mosqueda.

"His response to his first blockbuster contract? An 8.5-sack season, an elite year for an interior defensive lineman. According to Pro Football Reference, Hicks recorded 19.5 tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage in 2017. … Expect Hicks to become a household name soon."

Ranked in five separate categories, Hicks earned 81 of a possible 100 points in snap quickness (13/15), pass rush (21/25), run defense (26/30), tackling (14/20) and position value (7/10).

"Hicks was a good rotational hybrid end for the Saints and the Patriots before the Bears signed him in 2016 and then upped the ante with a four-year, $48 million deal in September," wrote scout Doug Farrar.

"He proved his worth in Vic Fangio's defense immediately. Built like a fireplug with a solid lower body, Hicks comes off the ball with incredible power and the technique required to propel himself past enemy blockers with authority. Hicks can also get elusive and turn on a quick spin move to get to the quarterback. With his bull-like power and surprising speed, he brings to mind Justin Smith, Fangio's star defensive tackle/end for the 49ers in the early 2010s."

The Steelers' Cameron Heyward ranked second behind Hicks, followed by the Chiefs' Chris Jones, the Broncos' Shelby Harris and the Packers' Mike Daniels.

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