From now until the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today, I will be profiling Ohio State safety Ronnie Hickman.
#14 Ronnie Hickman/S Ohio State (SENIOR) — 6004, 203
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Ronnie Hickman||6004, 203||9 3/4||33||N/A|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Solid all-around frame with bulk to play near the LOS
— Downhill attitude, willingness to put his face in the fan
— Versatile and aligned all over the defense, playing box, slot, and post safety, also asked to blitz off the edge and up the middle
— Flashes good closing speed and chase to the ball carrier
— Good athlete and can run in the open field
— Experience in man, zone, and match coverages
— Intelligent and helped align the defense
— Productive sophomore season in 2021
— Young with room to grow and get better, moved around the defense throughout his career and hasn’t gotten chance to settle in at one spot
— Despite good size, falls and slides off to many tackles
— Struggles to get head across and follow through as a tackler, tends to hang on and slip off
— Can take himself out of position and doesn’t come to balance, gets happy feet in the alley in the run game
— Not coordinated enough and doesn’t play with enough balance, keeping his feet under him
— Needs to improve angles in space
— Lacks a great feel for routes developing behind him
— Wasn’t a playmaker in coverage
— Tackling production saw big decline from 2021 to 2022
— 21 years old, turns 22 in October
— Two-year starter for the Buckeyes
— Nickname is “Rocket,” that teammates and family call him, nickname given by his father when Ronnie was a young child for his tenacity and fearlessness
— Four-star recruit from Wayne, New Jersey, selected Ohio State over Boston College, Florida, Michigan, and many other schools
— Career: 157 tackles (2.5 TFL), 3 INTs, 2 FFs, 1 sack
— 2022: 53 tackles (1.5 TFL), 1 INT
— Didn’t have a pass breakup in 2021, had seven in 2022
— Had 99 tackles in 2021, dipped to 53 the following year (played more of a hybrid linebacker role in 2021)
— Tore ACL senior year of high school, missed five games at Ohio State in 2020 due to an injury
— Skilled lacrosse player who initially committed to Rutgers to play it early in high school
— Played receiver and safety in high school, 19 receiving touchdowns his final two years of high school
Ohio State’s Ronnie Hickman looks the part of an NFL safety and he plays with the right attitude, too. He’s downhill and puts his face in the fan, not trying to shy away from contact. When he squares up, he can get the job done. Watch him follow the flat here and cut down big Notre Dame TE Michael Mayer, a potential first round pick in this year’s draft.
Hickman is highly versatile and wore plenty of hats in the Buckeyes’ defense. There were games he played more in the box, more in the slot, or more in the post. He’s intelligent and Ohio State was always tinkering with him, perhaps to his detriment of not getting comfortable or honing his craft at one spot. Still, he made up for it with good speed and a can-do attitude, a chip on his shoulder coming from a high school of 600 students to play in the Horseshoe.
While Hickman plays without fear, it isn’t always enough to get the job done. Hickman plays too out of control and misses too many tackles. He’ll fall off when instead of being able to shoot through, get his head across, and make the stop. I’m not expecting every hit to be a TKO but there’s far too many missed tackles on his tape. Here’s some below.
Hickman is still a work-in-progress whose game isn’t maxed out. He’s only 21 years old and never had a solid home in his two years playing heavy snaps in Ohio State’s defense. But there’s serious technique flaws in his game he’ll have to clean up in order to get him on the field. His missed tackles are going to be a liability and he doesn’t make enough splash to make up for it even though he’s a plus-athlete. He’s best as an overhang type of defender to attack the curl flat and fill against the run but he’s not yet starting or sub-package material. My NFL comp is K’Von Wallace, though Hickman’s straight-line speed is a bit better.
Projection: Mid Day Three
Depot Draft Grade: 6.7 – Backup/Special Teamer (5th Round)
Games Watched: at Michigan (2021), vs Notre Dame (2022), vs Georgia (2022), Senior Bowl