The New Orleans Saints typically take their time when it comes to signing draft picks, preferring to wait to close to the start of training camp before openign up negotations.
None of the Saints 2012 draft class were under contract until yesterday as General Manager Mickey Loomis reported the team agree to a four-year deal, for an undisclosed amount, with third round pick defensive tackle Akiem Hicks.
Hicks became the teams top pick this year — after trading away their first round pick last year and being stripped of their second round pick this year as a bounty penalty — after an unorthodox college career.
LSU originally recruited Hicks out of junior college to come play for the Tigers, he however lost his NCAA eligibility after a recruiting violation surfaced.
Hicks was given inappropriate lodging and transportation unknown to him, and he was sent packing, of all places, to Canada.
The University of Regina is where Hicks would land, and in his senior year he posted 42 tackles and 6.5 sacks garnering a first-team All-Conference selection.
New Orleans liked Hicks combinations of size (6 foot 5, 324 pounds) and speed (4.95) enough to pull the trigger on drafting him.
His athleticism is surely a welcome addition to a defensive line that has failed to generate a consistent pass rush the last several seasons.
Under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo the Saints defensive will rely far less on the blitz, and much more on pressure from the front four to rush opposing quarterbacks.
Hicks won’t unseat starters Brodrick Bunkley and Sedrick Ellis, but he will spell them likely in passing situations.