New England Patriots: Profiling New Addition Akiem Hicks


The New England Patriots made another trade on Wednesday, sending tight end Michael Hoomanawanui to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for defensive lineman Akiem Hicks. Hoomanawanui was buried on the Patriots’ depth chart after Michael Williams had taken over his role as the blocking tight end. Swapping him for interior defensive line depth was an easy decision for the Patriots.

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The Patriots have been making more deals than usual this season, with this one following up the trade for Jonathan Bostic from the Chicago Bears from earlier in the week. Hicks is the seventh player that Bill Belichick and the Patriots have acquired via trade since the team broke training camp this year.

On the surface, this move seems great for New England. They had no use for Hoomanawanui with Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler and Williams excelling in their roles as tight end. Hoomanawanui was not even active in Week 3, as the Patriots had clearly moved on from him. He had a couple of nice years with the team, but his time was always going to be limited.

Hicks was a third-round selection (89th overall) by the Saints in the 2012 NFL Draft. He is currently listed at 6-foot-5, 324 pounds and has 33 career starts under his belt in only three seasons. Hicks was brought in by the Patriots to help with their defense against the run. The big man is known as an impressive run stopper, and he has had plenty of success in his career from the defensive tackle position.

Sep 13, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive end Akiem Hicks against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

While he is most effective as a run stopper, Hicks certainly has some pass rush ability as well. In fact, last season Hicks was credited with an impressive 27 quarterback pressures by Pro Football Focus. He can move extremely well for a big man, and it has resulted in a great combination of run defense and pass rush ability.

Hicks is a talented player with plenty of upside, but he has yet to put it all together in the NFL. On paper, the Saints may seem crazy for making this deal, but I understand it from their prospective. Hicks is inconsistent and he becomes a free agent this off season. Hoomanawanui is a consistent and reliable player at a position they have a huge need.

Hicks is unlikely to start right away for New England, but he will certainly play a role at defensive tackle. The Patriots currently rotate Dominique Easley, Sealver Siliga, Alan Brach and Malcom Brown at defensive tackle, and Hicks certainly has the talent to break into that rotation. I predict that Hicks will eat into Brown’s playing time the most, as the Patriots’ first-round rookie has struggled to adapt to the NFL game early in this season.

Whether Hicks ends up making a strong impact this season or not, the Patriots made a nice move here. He brings much more upside than Hoomanawanui, who they had no place for on the roster anyway. Also, if Hicks walks in free agency this off season, the Patriots are likely to receive draft pick compensation.

The way I look at it, this move is a win all around for New England, and I am excited to see what Hicks can do on the field. With Belichick coaching an impressive talent like Hicks, the sky is the limit.

Next: Patriots Offensive Line Rotation is Genius

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