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Possibility at 17: Hakeem Nicks

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As we head for the Draft, Gang Green Nation will take a look at some potential picks for the team. Today we will profile Hakeem Nicks, a wide receiver from the University of North Carolina.

What NFL Draft Countdown thinks:

Strengths:
Ideal height and bulk with long arms...Excellent route runner...Has big, strong, reliable hands...Plucks the ball out of the air and can make the difficult catch...Great body control and ball skills...Aggressive and is a decent leaper...Good balance and agility...Tough, strong and physical...Will work the middle of the field...Able to do some damage after the catch...Nice instincts and awareness...Team player with solid intangibles...Extremely  competitive...Experienced...Very productive.

Weaknesses:
Just average speed and quickness...Is not very explosive and lacks a burst...Doesn't get a lot of separation...Probably won't be much of a vertical threat...Not very elusive and lacks wiggle...Motor runs hot and cold...Must work harder  as a blocker...Might be a  little too cocky.

 

What SB Nation's Mocking the Draft thinks:

Strengths: Arguably the top route runner in this year's class, Nicks is a reliable target with very good hands. Runs crisp routes and has good quickness out of his breaks. For a receiver, Nicks has good strength. Cornerbacks have to be sound tacklers to take him down in the open field. Gives some safeties trouble when he gets a head of steam. Has good awareness of the sideline when he's up in the air. Knows how to really attack a zone. Easily locates the hole and is patient enough to sit in them until the pass arrives.

Weaknesses: Really lacking good speed. May test well due to offseason workouts, but Nicks doesn't play especially fast. A little slow off the blocks. Played in an offese that has several quality targets, which often gave Nicks one-on-one coverage. Has serious ball-control issues after the catch. Nicks need to learn how to tuck the ball high and tight as he'll occasionally get the ball knocked out of his hand.

What I think:

If the Jets go receiver early, it should be for a guy like Nicks. His game is  refined enough for him to be a productive starter right off the bat. His route running ability will allow him to get open consistently working underneath on corners. His strength and hands equip him to make tough catches in traffic. His strength also makes him difficult to bring down after the catch, which will help him rack up a lot of yards after the catch. His ceiling is T.J. Houshmandzadeh. He does not have breakaway speed, which means Hakeem will not be much of a vertical threat. This does not mean he lacks number one receiver potential, however. There seems to be a bias against calling physical possession receivers potential number ones. However, Terrell Owens and Anquan Boldin are not major vertical threats and still considered elite players because of how often they get open and what they do after the catch. The good news is that he could be around in the second round after gaining 14 pounds between the Combine and his pro day. This will undoubtedly turn some clubs off. If the Jets want him, they might be able to grab somebody else at 17 and have Nicks waiting later.