Five New Orleans Saints to ‘bet on’ in 2015

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Akiem Hicks

Nov 30, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Mike Adams (76) and guard David DeCastro (66) double team block New Orleans Saints defensive end Akiem Hicks (76) during the first quarter at Heinz Field. The Saints won 35-32. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports One on One: Get to Know Akiem Hicks

Let me first say that Akiem Hicks didn’t have a bad year. Hicks, who was pegged by many as a breakout candidate on defense last year, finished as one of five positively (green) graded Saints defenders, according to Pro Football Focus. He finished out as the third highest on the 31st ranked Saints defense at a +2.6, excelling run defense with a +3.6 grade on run stopping.

However, Hicks only finished with two sacks. You could say that Hicks maybe sacrificed himself for the ‘greater good’, but like last season, he figures to take on a larger role this year. The Saints must continue to get run stopping production from Hicks, and with him likely to continue drawing double teams, it could mean good things for the ‘to be determined’ starting outside linebacker who goes over his shoulder.

Next: Byrd's the Word?

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