Akiem Hicks is proving to be a steal for the New Orleans Saints. Last year, the Saints drafted Hicks in the third round out of little-known Regina in Canada. In 14 games, Hicks made 20 tackles and a forced fumble in a limited role. This season Hicks’ role with greatly increase as he could be the starting nose tackle for the Saints’ new 3-4 defense.
Hicks is a mountain of a man at 6-foot-5, 324 pounds and would seem to fit the mold of a nose tackle. However, Hicks is very versatile and could play multiple positions on the defensive line. There has been talk of playing Hicks at defensive end as well and despite his great size he would not give up any speed on the outside. Hicks is surprisingly quick on his feet and that could benefit the Saints on the outside where the team is looking to improve their pass-rush.
Hicks’ biggest competition will be rookie defensive tackle John Jenkins. Jenkins is even bigger than Hicks at 6-foot-4 and a whopping 346 pounds. Jenkins might get the first go at nose tackle, even as a rookie. However, if Hicks loses the starting nose tackle job that would be okay because he could become a force to be reckoned with on the outside as a defensive tackle.
With increased playing time next season Hicks will become a very good player for the Saints and could be key to the team’s defensive turnaround. Hicks was definitely a diamond in the rough and in his second season the Saints will cash in.