With the 2022 NFL Draft in the rearview, there are still a handful of notable free agents looking for new homes. Among them is defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. There are plenty of teams that could have interest in signing Hicks, including the Denver Broncos, who could use more help on the defensive line.
CBS Sports NFL writer Jordan Dajani broke down some of the best fits for the remaining free agents on the market. For Hicks, he pegged the Denver Broncos as a prime location, writing:
The Broncos drafted Eyioma Uwazurike and Matt Henningsen on Day 3 of the draft, but Hicks would obviously immediately be one of the best defensive linemen on roster if Denver signed him. He may be 32 now, but Hicks can still be an effective player. I’ve been impressed with almost everything George Paton has done, and I think adding a veteran like Hicks could just be another example showing Denver is looking to win right now.”Best fits for remaining free agents after 2022 NFL Draft: Odell Beckham to Patriots, Julio Jones to Colts
Although Hicks is 32 years old, he’s still one of the best run defending interior lineman in the league. Denver has added some young talent to their defensive line, as Dajani pointed out, but they could use a veteran presence to solidify their front-seven.
D.J. Jones was the Broncos best interior lineman last season, posting a Pro Football Focus defensive grade of 73.7, which ranked 18th out of 109 qualifying interior lineman. The team’s other starting interior lineman De’Mont Jones, however, proved to be a liability at times during the 2021 season, finishing the year with a PFF grade of 57.8, 61st among defensive tackles in the NFL.
Hick started nine games last season for the Chicago Bears, recording 3.5 sacks along with five tackles for loss and 21 combined tackles. He finished the year with an overall PFF defensive grade of 72.3, which included an elite outing in Week 15 against the Minnesota Vikings, where Hicks recorded a PFF grade of 90.2 for the game.
The Broncos have been busy this offseason. With Russell Wilson captaining the ship, and newcomer Randy Gregory looking to wreak havoc on the defensive side of the ball, Denver is clearly in win-now mode. Adding a veteran talent like Akiem Hicks would solidify that status and give the Broncos even more ammunition for a championship run.