The New Orleans Saints 2012 NFL Draft is complete...completely empty that is. The Saints already slim Class of 2012 just lost its last standing member a couple hours ago. Hybrid defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, who practiced today for the Saints, was traded to the New England Patriots. The class, which was already disadvantaged by having neither their 1st nor 2nd round picks, selected Hicks in the 3rd round that year out of the University of Regina in Saskatchewan, Canada.
After a breakout 2013 season in which the Saints advanced in the playoffs, many predicted stardom for the massive 6-foot-5, 330 pound defensive tackle. But after a subpar 2014 and an eventual move to defensive end, Hicks ultimately ended up in head coach Sean Payton's doghouse, getting benched for the entire 2nd half last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Just when the Who Dat Nation was finally learning how to pronounce the name of starting rookie linebacker Hau'oli Kikahi, the Saints decided to give their fans another phonetic tongue twister to try on for size.
Saints fans meet tight end Michael Hoomanawanui. If his name looks hard to spell, it's even harder to pronounce...all 7 syllables of it. Here's your quick lesson...its HOH-OH-MAH-NAH-WAH-NOO-EE. Yep, try saying that 5 times real fast.
The real news here is not the acquistion of a backup tight end. Let's be real...it's taken Hoomanawanui over 5 years to accumulate the career stats that Jimmy Graham could have gotten in 5 games. This was purely a move by the Saints to get rid of a player (and his salary) who simply has not produced on the field for the better part of the past two seasons.
The change of scenery to the perennial contending Patriots, however, could be a boon for Hick's career. Remember, there was another former Saint defensive lineman who went to the Patriots in his 4th year, and also happens to own a shiny, new Super Bowl ring. Rob Ninkovich, a 5th round pick by the Saints in 2006, joined the Patriots in '09 and has been a mainstay starter on their d-line for most of the last 7 seasons.
And in the words of the late great Yogi Berra, could it be deja vu all over again?