NYG Rookie Preview Round One: Hakeem Nicks

Louis GiangarraCorrespondent IMay 26, 2009

CHAPEL HILL, NC - OCTOBER 25:  Hakeem Nicks #88 of the North Carolina Tar Heels runs with the ball against the Boston College Eagles during their game at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on October 25, 2008.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

When the Giants' first turn to pick came up on draft day, there were a couple of appealing options to choose from. 

They needed a LB, and there were certainly some of the big names still on the board, but instead they picked the best player available:  Hakeem Nicks.

Of all the wide receiver prospects in the draft, Nicks was widely considered the most NFL ready.  This of course stems from the type of offense Butch Davis runs at North Carolina

While most college teams have turned to the spread offense to score points in bunches, North Carolina has stuck with a more traditional NFL offense where they run the ball and receivers run the same routes the pros do.

Davis has seen his fair share of stud receivers during his time as a coach.  He was at the University of Miami when Andre Johnson, Santana Moss, and Reggie Wayne were catching everything in site and was the position coach for Michael Irvin.  He thinks Nicks stacks up with any of them.

"He’s a mature kid. He’s got excellent work ethic. He loves to play, loves to complete. And he’s got just terrific hands. He’s got as good a set of hands hands catching the ball as anybody I’ve ever been around," Davis said.

Of all the guys hes coached, Davis compared Nicks most favorably to Hall of Famer Michael Irvin. 

"You don’t want to put the burden on a kid coming in his rookie year, but a lot of his physical attributes are very similar to Michael Irvin. He’s big, he’s physical, he catches the ball over the middle, he’s got the ability to play physical when people are draped all over him as they’re going to be in the National Football League."

Nicks put himself in the national spotlight with an epic performance against West Virginia in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. 

After gaining 217 yards and three TDs, Hakeem Nicks was a house hold name. 

Through all the workouts, the combine, and pro days the one constant characteristic about his game was that he did not drop many passes—always a nice skill to have as a wide receiver.

From his first mini camp, the ability to catch the football was on display.  Over the three days of camp, Nicks only missed one ball while pulling down a couple of highlight reel catches to make up for it. 

Though it was only one camp, the results were promising and Nicks stood out as one of the best players on the field.

What most scouts labeled as his biggest flaw was the lack of top end speed.  Nicks ran a respectable time at the combine, but certainly not the blazing number that a guy like Darius Heyward-Bey put up. 

In the NFL, though, its not all about speed.  If you're fast enough you can still be effective and Nicks is certainly that. 

Scouts complained about Jerry Rice's and Anquan Boldin's speed as well, but it didn't seem to effect their performance on the field too much.

Nicks will have some big shoes to fill.  The team is going to look to Nicks to step up right away and by the end of the season should be starting in the spot vacated by Plaxico Burress

It's hard for any rookie to step into the NFL and have success, particularly at the wide receiver position, but if anybody has the talent and the preparation to buck the odds it's Nicks.

The Giants will be counting on him.