Skip to main content

Jaden Hicks vs. Tyler Nubin: Identifying Broncos' Best S Fit

There could be more change coming to the Denver Broncos safety room.

Even after a pair of signings, releasing Justin Simmons increased the Denver Broncos' need at the safety position. Bringing back P.J. Locke and signing free agent Brandon Jones takes some of the urgency away, but the future at safety is still in question. 

Locke and Jones will have to compete with Caden Sterns, and there's 2023 sixth-rounder J.L. Skinner. There could even be an option of moving Riley Moss or Demarri Mathis to safety to see what they can do.

Whatever the Broncos do before the draft, let's look at the top two safeties and see what they could bring to the team. 

Jaden Hicks | Washington State

Washington State Cougars defensive back Jaden Hicks (25) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Stanford Cardinal during the second quarter at Stanford Stadium.
  • Height: 6-foot-2
  • Weight: 211 pounds
  • Arm Length: 31-1/2 inches
  • Hands: 9-3/8 inches
  • Relative Athletic Score: 8.92


There were questions about Hicks' athleticism, but those were put to bed. He has a good build and frame that matches what the NFL seeks. He has good versatility and brings multiple aspects to defending the run. 

When working in deeper coverages, Hicks has good eyes and sense in coverage to read the quarterback and the play. His quick reactions get him into position to make plays on the back end. His overall awareness and timing are great — one of the best traits he brings to the NFL. 

Hicks' ball production is great, and his timing and positioning were a big reason for it. Regarding his run defense, he does well in quickly triggering downfield and hitting the running alley with timing. He isn't afraid to be physical against the run and has a solid tackling technique to finish the plays with force.


The issues with Hicks' run defense come when he does end up engaged with a blocker. There isn't enough strength or technique to consistently get off blocks. He also has some issues with his agility, which can be an issue if he goes to meet the ball carrier in space. 

Hicks has a longer lower half, which doesn't help his changing direction or agility issues. When he has to change direction, there are often extra steps to slow and gather before making the adjustments. 

Fit With Broncos

The Broncos need added talent at the position, and they can't be overly picky about the play style. Hicks would be a good fit for what the Broncos do on defense because of his range and play in coverage. While he isn't a carbon copy of Simmons, there are some similarities to what he brings to defense, though Simmons is obviously at a higher level. 

Big Board Position: No. 57 overall.

What happens next on the Broncos? Don't miss out on any news and analysis! Take a second, sign up for our free newsletter, and get breaking Broncos news delivered to your inbox daily!

Tyler Nubin | Minnesota

Minnesota Golden Gophers defensive back Tyler Nubin (27) reacts to a stop against the Purdue Boilermakers during the second quarter at Huntington Bank Stadium.
  • Height: 6-foot-1
  • Weight: 199 pounds
  • Arm Length: 32 inches
  • Hands: 9 inches
  • Relative Athletic Score: N/A


Nubin's timing, football IQ, and instincts are exceptional. He's rarely out of position and is almost always right around the ball, either in coverage or against the run. With how he reads plays as they develop, he's a consistent threat to take the ball away and has 15 interceptions and 15 pass breakups in college. 

While Nubin didn't test at the Combine, you can see the athleticism on tape, and he does change direction smoothly. This helps when he's chasing down a defender in space to make the tackle or track the ball. 

When working as a high safety, Nubin maintains good balance and discipline with his eyes to read passing plays as they develop. He works them between the routes and the quarterback, and when he gets a read on the quarterback, he is quick to react and trusts his instincts. 


Nubin doesn't have the best speed, so he'll struggle to chase down fast receivers who get behind him. His trigger to come downhill against the run is also delayed, and the one area where he doesn't seem to trust his instincts fully. 

Angles are another issue with Nubin. He will often take sharper angles and get outpaced by the ball carrier, or he takes them too steep, leaving space on the boundary. He must find balance and consistency with his angles in the NFL, where the game is faster. 

Improving his run defense will go a long way in adding to his limited versatility. He isn't able to play any role from the safety position and is more limited there than other safeties, as well as what defensive schemes he can be effective in. 

Fit With Broncos

Nubin can work with the Broncos and their scheme. It isn't ideal, but it wouldn't be trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, either. 

Nubin would help with the coverage aspect and his instincts, but the Broncos would need to develop his run defense. His ability against the run is his biggest hiccup with his schematic fit. 

Big Board Position: No. 65 overall.

Better Fit for Broncos

While the Broncos can't be picky, and either of these safeties can work for them, Hicks is the better fit. He's a better scheme fit than Nubin, and less work would need to be done regarding run defense. 

Follow Mile High Huddle on band Facebook.

Subscribe to Mile High Huddle on YouTube for daily Broncos live-stream podcasts!