With the bye week here, the Patriots do a lot of self scouting, which sometimes leads to personnel moves. Bill Belichick hasn't been shy about making trades, and yesterday he made his second trade of the week. First it was Jon Bostic joining the linebacker core, now Akiem Hicks adds beef to the Patriots defensive line. Hicks was mainly a defensive tackle until 2014, but the Saints wanted to move him outside to defensive end in 2015. The experiment wasn't really working and Hicks became expendable, so the Patriots pounced on a player that they know pretty well from spending almost a full week with this summer when the Saints and Patriots held joint practices.
Hicks had an interesting college career, bouncing around to three different schools from 2008 to 2011. He began his college career at Sacramento City College where he was rated the top junior college player in the country. He earned a scholarship to LSU, but because LSU got in trouble for recruiting violations, Hicks was deemed ineligible and couldn't sign with any schools in the United States. He had offers to play professionally in Canada, but he passed and decided to enroll at the University of Regina, which is located in Saskatchewan, Canada. He had the opportunity to play in the UFL after one year at Regina, but he decided to stay in school and try to get drafted in the NFL. It was a smart move; he finished 2011 with 42 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and was voted the top defensive lineman in the Canada West Universities Athletic Association. He was selected to the East-West Shrine Game and immediately stood out to scouts on hand, and New Orleans liked him so much that they took him in the third round.
Hicks started 33 of 48 games with the Saints, totaling 69 tackles, 58 assisted tackles, 6.5 sacks, three passes defended, and one forced fumble. In his three starts this season, Hicks only has two assisted tackles and has struggled. The Patriots have solid depth at end, so Hicks will most likely see most of his reps at defensive tackle, a position where New England does have talent but they also have to worry about Dominique Easley, a player that is very gifted but never seems to stay on the field that long before he gets hurt. Hicks also has excellent upside, similar to the other player they traded for this week, linebacker Jon Bostic. Adding young defensive talent is hard to do during the season in the NFL, but the Patriots aren't shy about making trades and doing anything they can to improve their roster.
Hoomanawanui, who is in his 7th NFL season, had slipped down the Patriots tight end depth chart and when he was a healthy scratch last week, the writing was on the wall. "Hooman" wasn't the most productive player, but he did make plays when the ball came his way and he'll always be remembered for his big plays in the Patriots unbalanced office vs. the Ravens in the 2014 playoffs. Hoomanawanui has started 39 of 61 games for the Rams and Patriots, totaling 40 receptions, 518 yards, and four touchdown receptions. The Saints desperately need help at tight end, so Hoomanawanui should see significant playing time in New Orleans.
Statistics Provided by http://www.pro-football-reference.com/
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