The New Orleans Saints picked a defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (6-4 320) with the 89th selection in the 3rd round of the 2012 NFL draft. He is from Regina University in Canada, a college founded by the Methodists. The Regina Rams club football team was formed in 1954; they currently play eight games a season. Regina was a junior college until 1959 but today has 12,000 students.
Hicks had a productive season in 2011 with 6.5 sacks (again, in just eight games) and also excelled at the East-West Shrine Game in January. He also had a good combine where he bench pressed 225 pounds 26 times and ran the 40 in 5.22.
Hicks will turn 24 years old in November and is a developmental type prospect with a huge upside. He has vines for arms and very strong hands. Long and strong, he may also project as a big 5-technique defensive end in 3-4 fronts. An unpolished athletic player with great movement skills for a big man, Hicks should make a fine 4-3 defensive tackle who can rush the passer from the inside tackle position.
The Saints say he was at the top of their draft board when they selected at 89. Some other players they may have had on their board got picked off not long before they selected. Smart, versatile safety Brandon Taylor out of LSU went at #73, cornerback Dwight Bentley from Louisiana Lafayette went at #85 and rangy linebacker Sean Spence Miami was picked off at # 86.
New Orleans passed on Clemson defensive tackle Brandon Thompson, a player I had heard they liked. He went at #93.
In a effort to replenish one particular position, the Colts took tight end Dwayne Allen from Clemson with the first pick in round three after selecting a tight end Coby Fleener from Stanford with their 2nd rounder.
What I thought to be a real reach was the Redskins taking offensive guard Josh LeRibeus of SMU with the 71st pick in round 3; he plays hard but is not very athletic and looks a bit stiff, LeRibeus doesn't pass the eye test with his physical appearance. He looks like a 6th or 7th round project.
Also over-drafted was offensive lineman Donald Stephenson (Oklahoma) by the Chiefs with pick #74. He is athletic but lacks power and strength and has a suspect work ethic. Stephenson opened scouts' eyes with a good combine by running well (4.94) but only did 19 reps on the bench. He may have still been there in round 4 or 5.
The Seahawks selection of quarterback Russell Wilson from Wisconsin with pick #75 was interesting. He is a 5-foot-11 quarterback but does have team leader skills, a live arm, and a history of productive seasons at the college level.
I like the Eagles pick at #88, one before the Saints, where they selected quarterback Nick Foles of Arizona. He has nice sice (6-4, 240) and a strong arm. Foles is a prototype pocket passer with good upside who carried his team in 2011. Arizona had a weak defense.
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