5 most improved Arizona Cardinals during the 2021 season

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Christian Kirk
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Christian Kirk /
3 of 6
Arizona Cardinals
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) Jordan Hicks /

Jordan Hicks – LB

The Cardinals drafted Zaven Collins with every intent to replace Jordan Hicks. Not only did Hicks supplant Collins at least for the season; he recorded 116 combined tackles and seven tackles-for-a-loss. While he didn’t improve statistics-wise, he makes this list because he faced adversity and was arguably the defense’s most consistent player. He did, however, log a career-high four sacks.

Hicks is still under contract. And with the Cardinals bumping Collins to the outside for a game coupled with Chandler Jones’ potential departure, Hicks may find himself sticking around the desert longer than he initially thought following April’s draft.

If he remains in Arizona, look for Hicks to further embrace his role as one of the defense’s leaders as he aims to encroach 100-plus tackles for the fourth straight season. And if his performance in chasing quarterbacks this season provides any indication, Hicks may have evolved into the defense’s most complete player.