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10 Most Important Bears of 2019: #4 Akiem Hicks is still underrated

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For the 11th straight year, I’m bringing you who I believe will be the ten most important Chicago Bears for the upcoming season. Next up at #4 is the engine that makes the defense go, Akiem Hicks.

Chicago Bears v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

I know Akiem Hicks finally received some national recognition by making the Pro Bowl, but the big Chicago Bears defensive tackle still doesn’t get the credit he deserves for being one of the absolute best in the game today.

The more I watch Hicks play, the more impressed I become, and the more I realize just how important he is to the Bears’ defense. If football is won and lost in the trenches, then Hicks is the the engine that makes Chicago's defense go.

Bears’ GM Ryan Pace calls him the “catalyst” for what they've built defensively in Chicago.

Everything starts up front and Hicks can do it all. As a run defender, he’s equally adept at playing in one-gap or two-gap scheme. He has the agility to get past blockers, but also the strength to hold the point of attack if doubled. There’s nothing that makes me more giddy than seeing Hicks absolutely engulf ball carriers with his 6’5”, 332 pound frame, but with his quickness and tenacity, he’s also of the best interior pass rushers around.

If you haven’t watched this video of Hicks yet, take the time and do it. You’ll come away smarter and with a deeper appreciation of what big #96 brings to the team.

Hicks has played the best football of his career during his three year run in Chicago. During that time he hasn’t missed a game, starting all 48 of his appearances, and he has averaged about 55 tackles a year, around 8 sacks per, 18 quarterback hits, and 13 tackles for loss each season. He not only fills the stat sheet, but he does all the little things you need a defensive lineman in a 3-4 defense to do. He’s a regular contributor on special teams and he’ll even answer the call on offense if needed.

Hicks is a leader through and through for the Bears, both on the field and off and that’s a big part of why he’s number four in my 10 Most Important Bears of 2019.