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Old 04-23-2009, 09:20 PM   #1
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Default JIM WEXELL | Could Nicks be the next Hines?

http://www.tribune-democrat.com/spor...113000940.html

JIM WEXELL | Could Nicks be the next Hines?
By JIM WEXELL
For The Tribune-Democrat

The coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive line needs young talent, but doesn’t see how the offensive line won’t garner the team’s first draft pick.

But the O-line coach looks at the Steelers’ only lost starter and believes the first pick has to be a cornerback.

The DB coach, though, believes that old draft axiom whereby those who score touchdowns will always get the attention in the first round.

So, since the Steelers are stocked at running back, this winding road leads us to the wide receiver position, where the Steelers not only lack depth there, but could be without Hines Ward following the 2009 season.

Ward’s contract will be up and he’ll be 34 at this time next year, and he’ll be a well-worn 34. He’s won two rings, holds all the team’s important receiving records, put up Hall of Fame numbers, and has told friends he has little more to accomplish. If Ward does opt to come back following 2009, it’ll be at a reduced rate and likely a reduced role, much like Jerome Bettis in his latter years.

So the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger – considering the lack of depth behind Ward and Santonio Holmes – need another weapon, and there’s a Ward-like performer who could last until the bottom of the first round.

Hakeem Nicks (6-0¾, 212) of North Carolina has drawn comparisons to Ward and Anquan Boldin by draft analyst Mike Mayock, and to Michael Irvin by Pro Football Weekly, and Nicks looked like all three players in his bowl game against West Virginia. Nicks ran great routes, showed “wow” hands, and flashed as much strength before and after the catch as Ward.

Nicks finished the game with 217 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Yet, the junior doesn’t have the scary speed of a Michael Crabtree or a Jeremy Maclin and is projected to be a late first-rounder, even though he ripped off a 4.49 40 at the combine.

That time was lost in the aftereffects of a strained hamstring. Nicks stopped working out and gained 14 pounds by his Pro Day. It brought up whispers of off-the-field character problems, which Scout.com’s senior scout, Tom Marino, brushes off.

“Hakeem is a good kid,” said Marino, a North Carolina resident who has followed Nicks’ career. “He’s quiet by nature and mature beyond his years. He stays away from people who push the envelope.”

And on the field?

“He is smart,” Marino said. “He can play any of the positions without a problem. He made in-game adjustments in their pro style offense. I like his mental toughness. He’s a good practice player and a very competitive game-day performer.”

Marino likes Nicks’ strength, explosiveness, leaping ability, timing, ability to wrest the ball from defenders, suddenness in and out of breaks, hands, concentration, route-running and blocking.

As for Nicks’ deep speed, Marino compared his tracking skills to those of legendary Baltimore center fielder Paul Blair. Marino watched all of the tape and saw Nicks drop one ball last season.

“He should be able to make a strong early impact and quickly develop into a club’s No. 1 receiver,” Marino said.

The New York Giants are reportedly interested in trading for Braylon Edwards on draft day. If they don’t, they’ll take Nicks with pick 29. That would possibly leave Ohio State’s Brian Robiskie as a candidate for the Steelers at pick 32.

A coach’s son with size and speed (6-3, 209, 4.54), the disciplined and team-oriented Robiskie would be another worthy successor to Ward. He’s been labeled as a second-rounder, probably because of the struggles Ohio State endured last season with a run-first freshman quarterback.

But scouts believe Robiskie’s polished enough to develop into a starter in his first or second season.

The Steelers are also considering Arizona slot receiver Mike Thomas and Florida split end Louis Murphy, who both visited the South Side facility.

They’re second to fourth-rounders.

The Steelers also showed interest in a couple of late-round speedsters, Jeron Cherry of Louisiana-Lafayette and Travis Shelton of Temple.

Shelton is a cousin of Devin Hester and has been clocked at 4.2-plus in the 40.

At tight end, the Steelers need blocking help, so they brought in North Carolina’s Richard Quinn for a visit.

Scouts agree that Quinn is one of the few “combination” tight ends in the draft, and some are calling him a third-rounder, even though he caught only eight passes last season.

But then again, North Carolina had a few receivers more deserving of the attention. One of them could replace a Pittsburgh legend in the not-too-distant future.

Jim Wexell is a free-lance writer who covers the Steelers for The Tribune-Democrat.
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Old 04-23-2009, 10:22 PM   #2
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Default Re: JIM WEXELL | Could Nicks be the next Hines?

I thought Early Doucet was supposed to be the next Hines Ward???
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Old 04-23-2009, 10:35 PM   #3
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Default Re: JIM WEXELL | Could Nicks be the next Hines?

I don't want a WR in the first round because there are plenty of them in the draft.
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Old 04-24-2009, 12:56 AM   #4
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Default Re: JIM WEXELL | Could Nicks be the next Hines?

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I thought Early Doucet was supposed to be the next Hines Ward???
Not like Hakeem Nicks . . .
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Old 04-24-2009, 01:11 AM   #5
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Default Re: JIM WEXELL | Could Nicks be the next Hines?

nicks is a lot better than doucet is, imo

but i doubt the steelers go wr in the 1st rd.. unless it's crabtree.. and that won't happen.. so we don't have 2 wry bout late 1sr early 2nd rd wr prospects
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Old 04-24-2009, 03:17 AM   #6
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Default Re: JIM WEXELL | Could Nicks be the next Hines?

Nicks is a good ball player but I hope we fill other needs first before taking a receiver.
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Old 04-24-2009, 04:58 AM   #7
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Default Re: JIM WEXELL | Could Nicks be the next Hines?

Nicks will be long gone. Robiskie will be there but he will not be the best player available that can fill major holes on the O line.
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Old 04-24-2009, 09:38 AM   #8
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Default Re: JIM WEXELL | Could Nicks be the next Hines?

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Not like Hakeem Nicks . . .
Thanks, but I know the difference. Doucet, a former highschool QB, compared himself to Hines Ward.

"Guys like Hines Ward and Anquan Boldin, I think I'm similar as far as build and being able to run after the catch," Doucet said. "Physical, tough guys who don't mind going in there and doing the dirty work, blocking downfield, cracking on linebackers. Whatever it takes."

http://cowboysblog.dallasnews.com/ar...ing-early.html

The next block Hakeem Nicks makes will be his first.
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Old 04-25-2009, 02:01 AM   #9
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Default Re: JIM WEXELL | Could Nicks be the next Hines?

My point was nobody else really compared Doucet to Ward, while everyone compares Nicks to Ward. Admittedly I don't know much about Doucet, but that's where I was coming from.

I'm not a big fan of gambling on WRs in general, but Nicks is easily my favorite WR in this draft. Watch some youtube tape on his bowl game . . . damn . . .
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Old 04-25-2009, 08:04 PM   #10
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Default Re: JIM WEXELL | Could Nicks be the next Hines?

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Originally Posted by SunshineMan21 View Post
My point was nobody else really compared Doucet to Ward, while everyone compares Nicks to Ward. Admittedly I don't know much about Doucet, but that's where I was coming from.

I'm not a big fan of gambling on WRs in general, but Nicks is easily my favorite WR in this draft. Watch some youtube tape on his bowl game . . . damn . . .
Mike Mayock was saying this time last year that Early Doucet plays like Hines Ward and compared him to Ward. That is where I am coming from . Comparisons dont mean crap until somebody proves it on the field.

I'm glad we never reached at a WR in the 1st when we have good depth in Ward, Holmes, Sweed, Nance.
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