Akiem Hicks May Be Better Than Ndamukong Suh In One Area

June 1st, 2022

Bucs DL Akiem Hicks.

Who better to give a breakdown of Akiem Hicks signing with the Bucs than a guy who started at tackle for nine years on the Steelers’ offensive line? That would be former Florida Gators stud Max Starks.

Last night on “Late Hits” with co-host Alex Marvez, heard exclusively on SiriusXM NFL Radio, Starks basically said the big reason the Bucs signed Hicks is they think Suh’s skills have eroded to the point that it was no longer a goal for the Bucs to bring Suh back, certainly not at his asking price.

(For those unaware, Starks is a friend and former teammate of Byron Leftwich and occasionally references talking to him.)

Starks doesn’t believe Hicks will match Suh in run defense, though Starks likes Hicks’ run defensive game.

Where Hicks is an upgrade is pass rushing, Starks believes, because Suh is no longer a full-time three-down lineman.

“I think the big thing is you are trying to find a replacement for Ndamukong Suh,” Starks said of the Bucs signing Hicks. “Ndamukong Suh has been that guy who has been a steady force for his entire career, wherever he went. … Suh has been constantly consistent, especially against the run.

“You need that extra spark in the middle. And let’s face it, Tampa Bay, all the resources and all the high power that they have up and down this roster, when you look at d-tackle, there is something left there, there is a void when Suh is gone. So you hope with Akiem Hicks, bringing him in, you are hoping he can come in and do some of that run-stuffing you are going to need.”

It’s not like Hicks’ numbers are anything to celebrate, in part because he is often hurt. That was never an issue with Suh,who has never missed a game with an injury since being drafted in 2010.

“If Akiem can come in and give you half of what he has had throughout his career, I think that is good value,” Starks said.

Here is something folks seem to be overlooking: Suh’s pass-rushing skills may have faded and he may have become too expensive for more of a one-dimensional player at 35, but Suh still had the most snaps (717) of any Bucs defensive linemen last year.

That’s a whole lot of snaps you are hoping an injury-prone guy (and a rookie) can replace.

59 Responses to “Akiem Hicks May Be Better Than Ndamukong Suh In One Area”

  1. Defense Rules Says:

    Solid analysis by Max Stark, although still can’t figure out why he ended it with ‘you are hoping he (Hicks) can come in and do some of that run-stuffing you are going to need.’ I would think that part’s a given (at 335 lbs next to 350 lb Vea); it’s the pass rush that needs to improve.

    Where I got lost is in your last sentence: ‘That’s a whole lot of snaps (717) you are hoping an injury-prone guy (and a rookie) can replace’. It’s MUCH deeper than that IMO because we’re lost 3 big guys (Suh, JPP & McLendon) who TOGETHER gave us 1,571 def snaps last year, and we’re replacing the 3 of them with Hicks (who’s averaged 430 def snaps per year in the last 3 years) plus our rookie Hall (who MIGHT give us as many as around 800 def snaps). Replacing 3 with 2 still leaves us one part-timer on the DLine short … ASSUMING no injuries this year.

    Have no issue with adding Hicks, as a replacement for McLendon & to take up some of the def snaps that Suh would’ve lost this year. But we still need Suh OR someone like him (Richardson) to give us the depth we’ll surely need with this injury-prone defense (at all levels BTW) to make all-in run for another SB championship.

    We now have 2 REALLY BIG guys in the middle (Vea & Hicks) both of whom have a significant injury history.

  2. Hodad Says:

    Watch that play again where Stafford hits Cupp. Suh breaks through the line, and has a clear run at Stafford. He couldn’t make the play. Lacking speed he comes straight in, and goes low. Stafford chucks, and ducks, as Suh gets there giving him that two hand shove to the ground. To late, Stafford gets the ball off. What if Suh gets his hands up trying to bat down that pass instead of going low, what if he hadn’t lost a step? I watch that play, and I know why he’s been replaced.

  3. Bucsfan4ever Says:

    I’d rather have Suh than Hicks.

  4. Bucsfanman Says:

    I applaud the Bucs for making this needed move. I think more is needed, however, for all the reasons above (Suh, LPP, McClendon). That’s a lot of snaps. Hicks has not proven to be reliable (injured), unlike who he is “replacing”.

    Hodad- I don’t think that’s fair to assign responsibility to Suh for that play, respectfully. We knew we needed to upgrade that position long ago. Suh proved to be a reliable asset in our turn-around defensively. At least he was one of the few that was ready for that play at the snap.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Suh is a solid player and played well for us, last year too. Sure he is old and lacks speed but he played well. Hicks is a good player too and causes a lot of disruption but health is an issue with him unlike Suh. Last couple of years Hicks missed enough games. if he is healthy enough i m sure he will help the Dline. We shall see, Go Bucs

  6. Fansince76 Says:

    I like getting Hicks however they need one more good veteran D-Line dude for injury insurance and add to the rotation. Need one more!

  7. Defense Rules Says:

    Hodad … ‘What if Suh gets his hands up trying to bat down that pass instead of going low, what if he hadn’t lost a step? I watch that play, and I know why he’s been replaced.’

    I’m thinking that using your logic, we should replace the other TEN first. Suh was the only one even close to Stafford.

  8. Zoocomics Says:

    We are going to miss Suh. He is a freak of nature and a generational talent. With exception of Tom Brady, for the 3 seasons he played with us, was the greatest investment Bucs ever made and worth every penny. Oh, and I never saw him disappear in big games, the guy always showed up when we needed him. When he retires, he starts his quest to Canton, we’re going to start hearing the stories from the teams he played against of how much he was feared more than anyone else on the field.

    Suh has a bit of a mercenary identity, but he’s a family man now with Florida business interests, I just can’t believe he’s going to uproot and go West. I’d be at peace after the Hicks signing that we find out he’s retiring. I would have paid $10M for another year of Suh. Lot of rumblings about this kid we drafted, but if he was that talented he would have been drafted sooner. Every team is looking for great interior D-Linemen. We will see if he’s got that dog in him.

  9. Cobraboy Says:

    Why overlook Nacho? The guy has played well…

  10. PassingThru Says:

    Exactly what I’ve been saying all along.

    Hicks is an injury risk.

    Suh was an erosion of skills risk.

    Yes, the decline was that noticeable last season. And Suh is about the money; that’s why he hopped from franchise to franchise, that’s why he bet on himself with single-season contracts. His contract was higher last season than the previous season, as he knew that Licht was motivated to get the band back together. At this point, Suh wasn’t going to take a discount or a team-friendly deal. I sincerely doubt he wanted less than $7 million to $8 million for this coming season.

  11. Pewter941 Says:

    From what Ive read, Hicks is injured alot

  12. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I thought Joe didn’t believe in “hope”

    As a Buc fan…..TBBF, for many, many years had little but hope.

  13. SB~LV Says:

    Does that mean Suh is in the lumbering seating area along with Gronk?

  14. Cobraboy Says:

    Hicks may be injured the last couple of years, but Bears’ fans will tell you when he was not hurting, he was the best player on their good defense and a force to be reckoned with.

    Which sounds like Vea…

  15. Chris Tucker@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I am totally down with this move. Not only did we get him, we got him on a prove it contract too!
    And I hear you TBBF! Like you, I have been here for many many years with little to no hope!

  16. Smashsquatch Says:

    Good move. Our D line was stale, which is why I haven’t worried one bit about Suh & JPP. Drafting Hall, signing Hicks, and inviting Sapp says the Bucs agree.

  17. Bird Says:

    Go back and listen to coaches and GM. They kept saying we got to get faster in middle. We got to get quicker pressure up middle. Before / during / after draft. I think it was part money and i do think the coaches were ready to move on from suh.

    Ive seen sites breakdown suhs play. His win percentage was way down. Lower then others on bucs. Lower then gholston.

    I loved suhs time here. He gave us some nastiness on dline. Part of super bowl. So he got something out of partnership too.

    Now its time to move on and bring in the next gen/ set of dline leaders. Going to be a fun season. Hope they can get one more complimentary edge rusher

  18. Buc4evr Says:

    Late in the season when you need a wide body “to go” it won’t be Hicks. Why are we signing an injury prone lineman when we have problems already with our pass rush. I’m not saying Suh is the answer, but it isn’t Hicks. Vea is also injury prone, so our top two DLs could be out of part of the season, especially in the playoffs. I hope this works out, but I don’t expect Hicks to play in more than 8 games.

  19. Cobraboy Says:

    Availability is certainly important…but so is push up the middle on passing downs.

    We’ve heard “younger and faster.” One hopes, based on who was available in the market, Hicks fills that need.

    Time will tell.

  20. Dooley Says:



    +Deadrin Senat
    +Akiem Hicks
    +Logan Hall(R)
    +Mike Greene(UDFA)

    And We’ve still got Vea, Gholston, Nacho, Potoe’a, & Previlion as interior DLmen. I think it’s pretty safe to say our staff is giving the underneath guys the opportunity to step up once the pads come on and if they don’t like what they see, the market is still open.

  21. Defense Rules Says:

    PassingThru … ‘I sincerely doubt he wanted less than $7 million to $8 million for this coming season.’

    MAY very well be true, but it’s still SPECULATION. If I remember correctly, Suh is his own agent and I doubt anyone but he & the Bucs know how much he’s asking for to play this season. And only Suh knows how much he’d accept.

    When Suh signed with us back in 2019, he made it fairly clear that it was the possibility of playing for Todd Bowles that was a key factor in bringing him here. Based on what this defense has accomplished in these past 3 years, my gut tells me that the two of them are fairly tight. It also tells me that Bowles appreciates the leadership that Suh has brought to the team.

    Personally I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Suh as a Buc once again this season. Just SPECULATION of course …

  22. Joseph C Simmons Says:

    I’m uncomfortable letting Suh go, but I understand the logic. Nobody seems to recall that for the last third of the season, we weren’t stopping the run as effectively anymore. 2019, 2020 and most of 2021 we were impossible to run on.

    Then the Colts said at halftime, “let’s see what Jonathan Taylor can do” and he started shredding us. The rest of the league noticed. We were no longer the immovable object.

    So we have to do something.

  23. Steven007 Says:

    I think the tea leaves clearly show that Suh was asking for more than the Bucs were willing to spend. Hicks is a fairly low risk investment. If he plays well and stays relatively injury free, he gets paid well.

  24. Defense Rules Says:

    Dooley … I agree with you that the Bucs are giving any number of DLinemen an opportunity to step up this season. We’re pinning our hopes on 1 very expensive NT (Vea) who does great with his 50% availability, on 1 very expensive OLB (Shaq) who needs others to excel for him to be able to hunt, and on a bunch of inexpensive others who’ve been part-timers or rookies (or injury-prone) up to this point.

    Yes any number of them MIGHT step up this year & perform like an Ironman DT like say, oh ya, Ndamukong Suh has. Good chance this is Tom Brady’s last year (hey, he is 45 after all). Can’t shake this feeling that right now our defense is our Achilles Heel. IF we’re all-in, then let’s be all-in and fix it before it’s too late.

  25. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    Both Suh and Hicks are a risk. Suh is getting up there in age. At some point he is going to slow down. We started seeing that last year. The risk with Hicks is that he is injury prone.

    I will be honest, I would like to see how opposing teams choose their double-team between Hicks and Vita.

  26. nick houllis Says:

    McCOy was here, Bucs were a gateway for other teams running backs. Suh comes in, were top 5 def, especially vs Run. dude shows up in big games. I think its a mistake. find the money for suh, even as a bit player.

  27. Stanglassman Says:

    We know he’s better than Steve McLendon and that’s who he’s replacing. Is Hall’s production going to be better than Suh should be the question. On a rookie 2nd round contract $ enables the team to upgrade McLendon to Hicks so neck yeah it’s a double upgrade.

  28. Goatfarmer Says:


  29. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    We will be lucky if Hicks makes it out of training camp without injury.

  30. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    We need Suh more than we need Gronk. There. I said it.

  31. Dick LeBeau Jr. Says:

    You gotta stop with the rookie thing. Let’s not act like you can’t have a rook come in and be impactful. If the rook gets 3 to 5 sacks in his first year, are you complaining? If he’s putting pressure on the QB and throwing off his rhythm, are you complaining. We’ll be straight after a few games of them gelling. I’m not worried about it. Teams lose players every year and keep rolling with their replacements.

  32. Joe Says:

    You gotta stop with the rookie thing. Let’s not act like you can’t have a rook come in and be impactful.

    Mountain of evidence that rookies rare dominate on the defensive line. Especially at pass rusher. Oh, Joe is sure in 30 seconds you can Google and find an offensive lineman (Bosads?) that did. The vast majority do not. Bosas are an outlier, not the norm, not even close.

  33. Stanglassman Says:

    Stop saying the guy is injured all the time. Last year was the only year since he’s been in the league to miss any significant time. He’s no McCoy.
    9/16 ‘21

  34. Goatfarmer Says:

    Suh > Hicks

    Watch the Todd Bowl against the Rams. Suh was the only one who showed up.

  35. D-Rome Says:

    Why overlook Nacho? The guy has played well

    Solid player that adds solid depth. He’s played admirably as a rotational player playing between 35-50% of the snaps. Teams that win need guys like him in his role. He’s not a guy you can have play 60%+ snaps a game in my opinion.

  36. Thisisouryear!!! Says:

    At first, I didn’t like replacing Suh with Hicks, but I’m warming to it. PFF rated Suh at a 49 last year and Hicks around a 67 (I think). Hicks looks dominant and fast at the line. I’m excited to see Hicks and Vea play together. That’s a big strong dominant interior. So replacing McClendon and Suh with Hall and Hicks, I think has big possibilities. We got a lot younger and faster.

    I’m still worried about losing JPP. I didn’t see enough strength from JTS last year to be effective off the edge. If Shaq gets double teamed regularly, I don’t think we are going to have much pressure off the edge. I don’t think we have the cap space to do anything, esp now, but that’s my concern with the defense.

  37. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Travis Jonsen…..DUI….no longer a Buc……

    No news is usually good news this time of year……or if it’s news….it’s an injury or some problem behavior.

    When are these players going to learn to Uber…..take a tip from “America’s QB”

  38. Mike Johnson Says:

    But can he stay as healthy and play in as many games as Suh did? IF..he can? we might have us a winner in town

  39. Brandon Says:

    Guys crying about snapcounts with Suh and McClendon, give it a rest. Suh is gone BECAUSE of his run defense. According to one take and plenty of video that went with it, Suh no longer has the lateral agility and speed to chase down the LOS on stretch plays and sweeps. Obviously he is able to get some heat up the field on occasion. If Hicks is healthy, he is an upgrade against both the run and pass. Maybe it is a big IF… as Suh’s greatest ability may have been his availability but he is seriously close to the end. the top guys in the interior are now Gholston, Vea, Hall, Hicks, Nacho… that’s a good five right there to squeeze into two-three positions (depending on formation). It would be nice for one more guy to step up and take some snaps at the NT position but crying about losing McClendon, who did very little last season and his last good game was the Super Bowl, is a bit much. He’s 36. He’s more done than Suh and was never close to as good. We need to get faster upfront.

  40. GOB Says:

    Suh’s PFF grade was under 50 last year. Yes Suh played a ton of snaps, but snaps don’t equal production. If Suh is still this dominant force, shouldn’t all those snaps equal more production? Hicks doesn’t need to take all those snaps to be productive. It’s clear the bucs plan on using him as part of a rotation. That should help keep him fresh and hopefully healthy for a playoff run.

  41. GOB Says:

    Brandon, I agree.

  42. Marine Buc Says:

    @ DR

    The Bucs also signed DE/DT D. Senat… I’m hopeful he can stay healthy and replace the production lost by McLendon’s departure.

  43. Goatfarmer Says:

    I hope you lads are right.

  44. SlyPirate Says:

    The only hole in our defense is depth at LB, specifically WILL (LVD).

  45. Im not tired anymore we Super Bowl Champs!! Says:

    We still need Suh….

  46. GOB Says:

    GF, don’t worry. If it doesn’t work with Hicks, GOB will send you a case of Johnny Walker blue to soothe the pain.

  47. #8 Says:

    GOB, send here. I’m your huckleberry on some JWB-

  48. BillyBucco Says:

    You added JPPs snaps bit left JTS off the plus side.
    These guys are gonna have to play.

    Unless We bring someone else in.

  49. GOB Says:

    #8, I got a buddy who works for the distillery. GOB will put you on the list

  50. firethecannons Says:

    I still think we should sign Suh–just get him on a Buc friendly contract somehow.

  51. firethecannons Says:

    honestly what was the motivation for Hicks to play last year on a krap ass losing Bears team? if you have some mild injuries and you have Brady as your quarterback and you are playing for championships then you would be motivated to take a toradol shot and LFG! right? compared to a “learning ” year for a quarterback that you never heard of that maybe is good someday and maybe not and wtf he threw another int.and now I gotta get off this bench and go again!? just so we can lose again.

  52. Bucamania Says:

    I wanted Suh back but I’m even happier about Akiem Hicks. Dude is a freaking MONSTER!

    Great signing.

  53. UKBuccaneer Says:

    We need help on the line, because the secondary is going to get eaten alive without pressure on the QB.

  54. geno711 Says:

    Stanglassman Says:
    June 1st, 2022 at 10:18 am
    Stop saying the guy is injured all the time.

    I think you looked incorrectly on Hicks.
    2021 played 9 games
    2020 played 15
    2019 played 5
    2018 16
    2017 16
    2015 16
    2014 15
    2013 16
    2012 14

    So injury issues is 2 of last three years but injury issues in only 2 of 9 years. Is that glass half empty or half full? It depends on your perspective. I suggest that the Bucs brain trust felt he would be more healthy than not this year.

    What I like is that everybody on the Bears reddit site loves this guy. No hate anywhere from the fans. I am ready to give this guy a great chance moving forward to be a better player than Suh was.

    Suh is not coming back. Time for me to embrace this defensive front and see what they can do. I am a fan of Hicks and Hall until proven otherwise.

  55. Stanglassman Says:

    Geno- That’s what I did too. Went to the bears site to see what their fans thought of him. They had nothing but great things to say. That goes a long way in my book. They know him best. Call me a glass half full guy.

  56. Stone crab sam Says:

    Imagining a lineup of suh, vea, hicks! As in 3-4.
    Oh, a guy can dream, can’t he?

  57. Capt.Tim Says:

    Hicks is a home run or a strike out.
    I think he will be a good player for the team this year.
    But we will miss Suh. And if JPP is healthy, we should sign him.
    We will suffer rushing the QB.

  58. steele Says:

    Hicks and Suh are different players, direct comparisons are tough. Hicks has been used as a 5-tech, as a DE, etc. He’s listed as an edge on many sources. How is Bowles going to use him? I really don’t care, as long as the interior and outside pass rush are bolstered.

    Whatever the answer, it’s clear that they still need more pass rushers. Go for Quinn, Dunlap, Houston. Especially if the plan is to use Hicks more inside.

  59. MRRR Says:

    Suh needed to go. Too old and too much money. I don’t think Hicks is the answer. Why? Too injured. I hope I’m wrong.