With the 2022 draft now complete, the attention for front offices across the league turns to finding undrafted players that fit the need for depth pieces on their rosters.
After already adding a couple names through UFDA deals, there are a couple more players that have joined the fold for the Cincinnati Bengals in offensive lineman Desmond Noel and outside linebacker Clarence Hicks.
Noel, a 6-foot-4, 305-pound lineman originally from Cincinnati, spent the last three seasons playing at Florida Atlantic University primarily as an offensive guard. During his time in Boca Raton, Noel played in 32 games total, while he started all 12 games for the Owls this past season.
It is no secret that the Bengals needed to upgrade their offensive-line to protect Joe Burrow, and veteran collegiate players such as this are how you help build depth and competition for such a crucial starting unit in the NFL.
Hicks, a 6-foot-2 and 225-pound linebacker originally from Pensacola (FL), spent the last three seasons playing for the UTSA Roadrunners. During his time in San Antonio, Hicks progressed quite well year over year with this past season being a breakout year. With stats to back it up, he was named First Team All-Conference USA and an Honorable Mention All-American by Phil Steele.
He finished the 2021 season with 37 total tackles (16.5 TFL) and 10.5 sacks. He also showed some decent ball skills in the passing game as he recorded 3 pass deflections and one interception on the year.
“Outside linebacker with deficient size who plays on the ball as a rusher and as an overhang. Hicks beats bigger blockers with his springy straight-line athleticism and is comfortable as a spot dropper. His close-quarter quickness and fluidity are below average and he has poor eyes. Hicks projects as a developmental 3-4 outside linebacker who can offer versatility to a defense. To make a roster, he has to improve his tackling and become more reliable at processing.”
With a solid pass rush already in place, signing Hicks appears to be a move that can pay off in the long-run if he can wind up making the roster and developing. The front office made it clear in the draft they are looking for athleticism on the defensive side of the ball across the board, and Hicks fits right into that mold. Now it’s only a question of how will he develop.