The New Orleans Saints have been adding many players that should fit in nicely with their 3-4 defense, but what about the players that were already on the roster? One player that is expected to take huge strides in the new defense is defensive tackle Akiem Hicks.
Hicks was the Saints’ third round draft choice last year out of Regina and was somewhat of a steal. Not many people know about Hicks. But if he catches on to the 3-4 next season, many people will start learning who he is. Hicks is 6-foot-5 324 pounds and would be a perfect fit for nose tackle in the Saints’ new defense.
Right now, Brodrick Bunkley is slated to be the starting nose tackle. But if Hicks develops quickly enough, he could take over at nose tackle. However, general manager Mickey Loomis has said that the Saints plan to use Hicks as both nose tackle and defensive end.
Hicks is a very versatile defensive lineman and possesses the size, strength and quickness to play either nose tackle or defensive end. It is obvious that the Saints did their homework in last year’s draft and see Hicks as a big part of their future. Next season, the Saints will utilize Hicks and his versatility and he could end up being the difference maker for the defense.
Last season, Hicks only had 20 tackles and one forced fumble in 14 games. While those numbers aren’t very impressive, you have to remember that Hicks was only a rookie and played more of a reserve role. Next season, Hicks should get a lot more playing time and should improve along the way.
Hicks has plenty of upside and his ceiling seems endless. Much like Jimmy Graham, he could prove to be a third round breakout star. Hicks’ greatest asset is his versatility and that will be put to the test next season, but I would expect Hicks to breakout in his sophomore year, and become a real force on the Saints’ defensive line.