New Orleans Saints Sign Top Pick Akiem Hicks to Four-Year Deal

Sigmund Bloom@SigmundBloomNFL Draft Lead WriterJune 29, 2012

Photo Courtesy of Chris Granger, New Orleans Times-Picayune
Photo Courtesy of Chris Granger, New Orleans Times-Picayune

Maybe the Saints are just taking their time because they have only five picks to take care of this season. Long after some teams have signed all of their picks, the Saints finally got around to signing the first pick of their 2012 class, who also happens to be the first pick they have signed.

The Saints announced that they signed third-round defensive tackle Akiem Hicks to a four-year contract today, according to Ryan Jones of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Hicks was a surprising first pick for a team that had traded away their first-round pick and surrendered their second-round pick as part of the penalty for their bounty program. He was once an LSU recruit, but NCAA ruled he had received improper benefits, so Hicks played his college ball north of the border at the University of Regina.

While he does have NFL size at 6'5" 324 pounds, Hicks is very raw and probably won't contribute early in his career. His first two months with the team included being singled out as one of the three players interim head coach Joe Vitt was most excited about, according to Christie Walton of Fox 8 New Orleans. Vitt specifically lauded Hicks' movement skills, which are a bonus in such a massive frame and insight into why the team would take a project that early when they had no premium picks.

Hicks development was slowed a bit by broken hand he suffered in the team's rookie mini camp that was re-broken during June OTAs. Hicks should be ready for training camp, if he isn't already cleared, as the injury should only take 2-3 weeks to heal.

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