University of Texas linebacker Jordan Hicks was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 20th pick (84th overall) in Friday's third round of the 2015 NFL Draft, which is being held in Chicago.
Hicks is the fourth Texas linebacker selected in the draft during the last six years. Keenan Robinson (fourth round in 2012 to Washington), Emmanuel Acho (sixth round in 2012 to Cleveland) and Roddrick Muckelroy (fourth round in 2010 to Cincinnati) join Hicks on the list. Acho has spent the last two seasons in Philadelphia.
"I've been talking to Philly for a while, actually," Hicks said about being picked by the Eagles. "I went on a pre-draft visit there and had a great time, felt really comfortable and enjoyed meeting with all the coaches and getting a feel for the place. I really like the city, and I know the organization is doing big things right now, so I can't wait to get there and get going."
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Hicks is the second Longhorn to be taken in this year's draft. Defensive tackle Malcom Brown was selected Thursday with the 32nd choice in the first round by the New England.
Texas has at least two players selected in the first three rounds in 13 of the last 15 years. There have been at least two taken overall in 51 of the last 54 NFL Drafts, dating back to 1962.
Last season, Hicks was a key cog in a UT defense that ranked No. 25 nationally in total defense (348.5 yards per game), No. 11 in both passing yards allowed (184.2 pg) and sacks (3.08 pg), and 22nd in third-down conversion defense (35.3 percent).
"Jordan has a lot of skill," head coach Charlie Strong said. "He's someone that can go in coverage and cover backs or anyone he needs to. He does a great job of dropping into a zone or matching up, but he's also very physical at the point of attack where he can run downhill and take on blockers."
Hicks ended his five-year career with 299 tackles, 24 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. He shook off a pair of injury-plagued seasons (2012-13) to record 147 tackles in 2014, a total that ranks tied for seventh on the school's single-season list. Hicks was a second-team All-America choice from both the Walter Camp Football Foundation and the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA), and a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award as the nation's best defensive player.
"The thing about Jordan is he's very smart," Strong said. "He's just like another coach out on the field. He's someone who did a great job this year getting our defense lined up, and guys respected him because of how hard he worked."
Defensive tackle Chris Akins was the last Longhorn selected by Philadelphia, going in the seventh round in 1998. Britt Hager was last UT linebacker to get drafted by the Eagles (third round in 1989). But it will be Acho who will help provide guidance to Hicks moving forward.
"Making this transition from college to the NFL is going to be huge, and I think having somebody like [Emmanuel] who I know and have a really good relationship with, we stay in contact all the time, he's the guy I usually turn to if I need something like advice in football, because I know he's been through it," Hicks said.
Hicks knows there will be an adjustment at the professional level, but his experience at Texas should help prepare him for the transition.
"Obviously I'm not going to sit here and say I know what to expect because it's new," Hicks said of the transition to the NFL. "You can't be ready for something brand new. You have no clue what it truly means to step into the situation, but I also know who I am, and I've been through some things in my life that I've overcome, and I've learned a lot about myself since I've been at The University of Texas."
On Thursday, Brown became the fourth player under Strong to be drafted in the first round during the last two years. Last season, Louisville had three first round picks in safety Calvin Pryor (18th overall to New York Jets), defensive end Marcus Smith (26th overall to Philadelphia) and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (32nd overall to Minnesota). Strong was the head coach with the Cardinals from 2011 to 2014. Since 1995, Strong has coached 13 players selected in the first round and 31 taken in the first four rounds.
The third, and final, day of the NFL Draft is Saturday.
Strong on NFL Network: While Charlie Strong appeared on NFL Network during the second and third rounds Friday, four players he has coached at either Texas or Louisville were chosen, including a stretch of three in four selections. The group includes LB Jordan Hicks (84 overall) from Texas, and OT Jamon Brown (72 overall), OG John Miller (81 overall) and LB Lorenzo Mauldin (82 overall) from Louisville. That brings the total to six combined for the 2015 draft (Malcom Brown of Texas - New England; DeVante Parker of Louisville – Miami).
Longhorns Draft Notes
• The Longhorns have had 332 players chosen on draft day and had at least one player selected in 77 of the 80 NFL Drafts, including a record 76 consecutive (1938-2013).
• With Jordan Hicks' selection, the Longhorns have at least two players taken in the first three rounds in 13 of the last 15 NFL Drafts. The New England Patriots selected Malcom Brown in the first round Thursday. In fact, at least two Longhorns have been drafted in 51 of the last 54 years, dating back to 1962.
• Despite not having a player selected in the 2014 NFL Draft, seven Longhorns ended up signing as free agents. Six Longhorns from that class were on NFL rosters last season including Carrington Byndom (Carolina), Donald Hawkins (Dallas), Trey Hopkins (Cincinnati), Jackson Jeffcoat (Washington), Adrian Phillips (San Diego) and Chris Whaley (Dallas). The six first-year players on NFL rosters was tied with Baylor and Oklahoma for the most among Big 12 schools and tied for 21st in the nation.
• Texas has had 44 players selected in the first round with three of those Longhorns — Kenneth Sims, 1982; Earl Campbell, 1978; Tommy Nobis, 1966 — earning the honor of being the first player selected overall.
• This is the fourth year in the last seven the Longhorns have a first-round draft choice. Kenny Vaccaro (2013 by New Orleans), Earl Thomas (2010 by Seattle) and Brian Orakpo (2009 by Washington).
• Texas holds the NFL record with 17 players selected in the 1984 draft.