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“Busted” LSU DT Akiem Hicks becomes the New Orleans Saints 89th pick

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Earlier in free agency the Saints were able to come to terms with former Eagle and Bronco defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley — a freakishly athletic tackle that can be an absolute terror for opposing offensive lines.

He, along with Sedrick Ellis, will form New Orleans staring duo in 2012 and beyond.

Bringing in Hicks will add a young presence to a promising group that consists of former CFL standout Tom Johnson, as well as developmental prospects Mitch King and Swanson Miller.

Most fans don’t recognize Hicks as a big name, and rightfully so if you consider he spent the better part of his college year’s playing in Canada at the University of Regina.

Just how Hicks came to be playing in Canada is quite the tale. The once former prize recruit of the LSU Tigers lost his NCAA eligibility after the University reported themselves for “illegal recruiting” violations.

It would seem that while LSU was trying to get Hicks to sign they inappropriately supplied him with transportation from the airport and lodging during an “unofficial” visit with the team in Baton Rouge very early on during the initial recruiting stage.

Most feel that Hicks was made a sacrificial lamb by LSU, and that essentially cost him his NCAA eligibility over a very “minor” recruiting violation.

Regardless he has made it into the NFL.

The Saints will immediately use him in rotation with Brodrick Bunkley and Sedrick Ellis next season. He has all the tools needed to be successful at the NFL level, including a fierce rip move that has help build his reputation as a solid pass rusher.

He’s big and physical, and thus should be a great fit with new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and his philosophy of rushing the passer with the front four nearly exclusively.

Here is what scouts had to say about Hicks, as well as the official blurb from the University of Regina website.

"Named a first-team All-Canadian, Canada West’s outstanding lineman, and a Canada West all-star in his second season with the Rams … set a University of Regina single-season record with 6½ sacks during the conference schedule … led the Rams outright and all Canada West linemen with 35½ tackles during the conference season … also had eight tackles for loss, three pass breakups, and forced two fumbles … had a team-high 10½ tackles and two tackles for loss in the Rams’ Canada West semifinal game at Calgary (Nov. 4). Regina DL Akiem Hicks is the best Canadian prospect I’ve seen at #shrinegame in 3 yrs … explosive, dominating (one-on-ones), #nfldraft.” — Wes Bunting, the National Football Post’s director of college scouting. University of Regina DT Akiem Hicks looks the part of a standout defensive lineman at nearly 6-5, 325 pounds. He was very impressive during one-on-one drills, showcasing impressive initial burst off the snap for his size, power on his bull rush and the length to routinely gain leverage. He has the skill set to not only make an NFL roster, but also mature into a solid contributor with some experience in either a 34 or 43 front.” — Wes Bunting He definitely has some work to do before he is NFLready, but he has excellent raw ability — Dane Brugler of NFLDraftScout.com."

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