After a decent little rookie campaign with the New Orleans Saints in 2012 at defensive tackle, Akiem Hicks earned himself the role as starting defensive end opposite Cam Jordan in 2013. Can he take his game to the next level and develop into a sold pass rusher this season?
As a rookie, he played in 14 games, starting none, totaling 20 tackles, a pass defended and a forced fumble. At 6-foot-5 and 324 pounds, Hicks’ added a nice big body to the middle of the defensive line in the Saints’ 4-3 scheme. However, when defensive coordinator Rob Ryan arrived to the Big Easy, Hicks made the switch to the end spot and racked up 56 total tackles and 4.5 sacks.
For those of you who don’t know, Hicks began his college career at Sacramento City College and was rated as a top JUCO player before signing with LSU in 2009. Unfortunately, he was ineligible to play due to recruiting violations. In the near future, he was offered a deal by the Canadian Football League‘s Toronto Argonauts, but decided to continue his education and football career with the Regina Rams, a university in Saskatchewan’s capital city (Regina). The decision to play in Canada was due to the fact that he was unable to attend an American school after the mess at LSU.
After a stunning college campaign, the New Orleans Saints selected Hicks in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. The Black and Gold missed out on a first and second-round pick following the bounty scandal, so Hicks was actually the team’s first overall selection.
With a full year of Rob Ryan’s style under his belt, don’t be surprised if those sack totals see a significant increase in 2014. He possesses the size and strength to take on double teams and has even shown flashes of explosiveness off the line. Evolving into a solid pass rusher could be the next step in his career.