Sean Hickey enters the 2015 NFL Draft after a career at Syracuse in which he started 38 consecutive games, including 29 at left tackle (9 at right tackle). He was named 3rd Team All-ACC at the conclusion of the 2014 season following a campaign in 2013 that resulted in Honorable Mention recognition. It’s worth noting that in 2012, Hickey was named as an All-Academic Big East performer. Physically, Hickey presents as an athletic-looking prospect with a lean and well-proportioned frame. He’s a natural 291 and looks like he could add another 10 lbs. He has a thick-enough lower half but lacks the ideal length you want from an NFL tackle. Athletically, Hickey is an average guy at best who lacks the necessary quickness and flexibility to be considered an early-round prospect. He struggles to get to speed rushers and labors when reacting to cross face counters. While he is a good effort guy, he is forced to lunge and bend at the waist because of his limited athleticism and flexibility. In pass protection, Hickey fights and claws against power rushers and is capable of holding his ground against the average opponent. However, I have questions about whether he will be strong enough to handle some of the NFL’s premier pass rushers; his tape suggests that he will need to develop more power in his lower half in order to really be able to anchor versus NFL talent. As stated above, he can be given problems when protecting versus speed. As a run blocker, Hickey is a competent performer who generally reaches his assignment and completes the block. He displayed the ability to effectively step and seal while also proving to be a difficult guy to shed. While I don’t see him being able to consistently reach defenders on the second level, he does appear better suited for a ZBS that relies on angles and movement rather than pure power; if he bulks up, he’ll be more diverse. Hickey tends to absorb the defender rather than use an effective punch, which is a glaring issue moving forward. He doesn’t have great length as it is, and if he is going to have any chance at making it in the NFL, he’ll have to develop better hand technique.
BOTTOM LINE: Sean Hickey brings a lot of starting experience to the NFL Draft which many teams will find appealing. However, his skill set is limited and he looks the part of a career backup and swing lineman. He might eventually find a home at OG on the next level, but his experience at OT will make him a valuable backup on game day. Hickey projects as a late-Day 3 player at this stage.
GRADE: 5.2 (7th Round – PFA)
-Submitted by Bryan Perez (@FirstRoundGrade)