Is Akiem Hicks as Horrible of a Pick as “Experts” are Suggesting?
With their first pick, which occurred in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft, New Orleans went off the board, WAY off the board, and took Akiem Hicks. The intriguing thing about this pick is that he played his university ball in Regina, Saskatchewan.
Other Canadians have been taken in the NFL Draft, many of which went on to nice careers south of the 49th, but Akiem Hicks is special because he did not play college football in the NCAA Division I. He didn’t even play in Divisions II or III. He played in the CIS, Canada’s university athletics organization, and their version of the NCAA.
The Regina Rams are part of the Western division and compete against the likes of UBC Thunderbirds, U of Manitoba Bisons, U of Calgary Dinos, and so on. Now, stay with me here, Hicks was scheduled to play at LSU, who of course played in the best conference anywhere – the SEC (Please, don’t argue about the SEC’s reign…just look at last season’s BCS Championship). He would have played Alabama, Florida, Arizona, etc. So, what happened?
After failing to earn a college scholarship out of highschool, the Sacramento native became a standout at his local college. As a junior, Hicks was rewarded with a call from football powerhouse LSU. However, due to some recruitment violations including an ill-timed phone call, partially-subsidized rent, and a free meal, the scholarship was stripped. ONE free meal. Silly, but those are the rules.
Hicks was then recruited to play for the Toronto Argos of the CFL, but opted instead to continue his education by playing his final two seasons in the CIS.
“And then when the University of Regina came along, it felt like the right decision. It felt like something that I needed to do for myself to continue my education as well as continue playing football.”
He was a West Division all-star, and was later invited to the Shrine game as well as NFL Combine. He certainly impressed, and apparently found his way high on the Saints’ draft plans.
Most “experts” are very critical of the Saints taking him as early as they did, citing that he would have been available a few rounds later. Whether that is the case or not, they were impressed enough by him (his huge wingspan, vertical, strength and overall size) that they didn’t want to risk him being taken off the board before their turn at the podium.
My thinking is that if a guy is that high on your list, and you believe he fits your plans perfectly, then you have to be willing to take him earlier than perhaps anticipated. He, apparently, fits that criteria. Experts, who I might add are obviously far from infallible or they, too, would be General Managers in the NFL, have their own agendas sometimes. There are picks they like, ones they don’t. Some “experts” also argued how Ryan Leaf was the right pick, same with Leinart, and many others, and look how they turned out. These are the same experts who are down on the Hicks pick.
Look, he might not be a great pick. There were more talented players on the board. But sometimes you have to take a shot on something you believe in, as the Saints did. Sometimes it works out, and other times you end up with a dud. That’s the way the draft goes. Sometimes unorthodox methods are valid. I might also add that the Saints are not exactly on everyone’s Christmas list. Just saying.
…and that is the last word.