The Jordan Hicks-Kobe Bryant Connection

Jody Gomez / USA TODAY Sports

Jody Gomez / USA TODAY Sports

Unable to take the football field, Jordan Hicks instead focused his energy on his one-on-one with Kobe Bryant.

Hicks ruptured his left Achilles tendon back in September of 2013, several months after Bryant suffered the same injury. A competitor by nature, Hicks decided to turn the rehab process into a showdown with Bryant to see who could return to action quicker.

“He did a lot of things different — he went what, over to Europe and did all his stuff — I wasn’t going to do that,” said Hicks with a smile, “but I was keeping track of his timeline and his progression. I still remember this stuff: he was practicing after six months and took that month and came back in seven months.”

Did Hicks beat him?

“I would have beat him back,” he said. “Really, I’m telling you, I could have played after like five-and-a-half, six months. That was during spring ball, they didn’t want to push anything, they wanted me to be good Day One of summer workouts, and Day One of summer workouts was seven months.”

The Achilles rupture was the second major injury to Hicks in as many seasons. In 2012, he tore the abductor muscle near his left hip right off the bone, he said, when all his weight came straight down on the leg when it got stuck behind as he dove to make a tackle. He made it all the way back from that only to be knocked out all over again.

“It was tough because that was my second season getting injured in a row. And I had done everything up to that point physically-wise, mental-wise to prepare myself to not get hurt again that year, and then it happened. So you learn that everything is out of your control, so much is out of your control and you can only focus on what you can control.”

Hicks rebounded from the back-to-back injuries and led Texas with 147 tackles in 2014, earning second-team All Big 12 honors. The Eagles thought enough of him to invest a third-round pick in the middle linebacker.

The 6-1, 236-pound Hicks seems to be a bit of a polarizing player in the scouting community. Some seem to really like him while others, like the one that Geoff Mosher spoke with recently, are on the other end of the spectrum.

“We had a [rookie] free-agent grade. Everyone is different. I just don’t understand it. I just thought he was a good, solid college football player. I didn’t think he was that good. He can play the run, plays with good range but I just think he was a thick, stout guy that can take on and shed but didn’t think he was a good athlete. His change of direction is not that great. If he came out into the league I thought he’d be a good, solid guy who can play special teams. I didn’t think he’s going to have anything to do with defense. Every year a team would be trying to get rid of him.”

Similarly, a scout Paul Domowitch talked to said his team didn’t have Hicks on their board.

“It is what it is,” said Hicks. “They don’t define me. It’s all a matter of opinion. That’s what this game is. What the media and scouts think is their opinion. They don’t know my mindset. My mindset is what separates me. My ability to learn and adapt, and the things that I’ve been through.”