Pros: Nicks has incredible hands and can catch any pass thrown his way—if the ball is within arms reach, it’s his. Not only does he make the catch, he immediately turns up field and looks to score. He is strong and can break several tackles in only a few steps. This former Tar Heels is one of the toughest receivers to bring down. He looks very smooth, both in routes and when running with the ball. With great vision and field awareness he has the ability to cut back and turn a short catch into a long gain. He might be the best all around receiver in a stacked class when it comes to hands, route running, blocking, and running after the catch. He is a physical player with great agility and awareness.
Cons: Hicks is not extremely fast and will struggle to gain separation against the extremely quick corners in the NFL. He doesn’t have the explosion that the other first round receiving prospects possess so he won’t consistently be a down the field threat, which could limit his big play potential. He could play harder at times and often looks to rely strictly on ability.
Scouts Take: Hicks was very productive at North Carolina and is the best of the three Tar Heel receivers entering the draft. He had 1,222 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, and saved the best performance of his career for the last game he played, against West Virginia in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. He made two unbelievable catches and finished the game with eight catches, 217 yards, and three touchdowns. After the game, Nicks flew up the draft boards and now looks to land in the mid-first or very early second round. With so many teams from 20 to 32 needing a solid possession receiver that can make plays, Nicks should play well and earn a starting role on a good team. He says he tries to play like the Cards' Anquan Boldin and it definitely shows with his great hands and ability to break tackles. He isn’t the homerun threat that Darius Heyward-Bey, Percy Harvin or Jeremy Maclin are, but he makes up for it by running great routes and playing with a tough, hard nosed mentality. He could be anywhere from the fourth to sixth receiver taken, but that doesn’t mean he can’t have the biggest impact of all as a rookie.
Photo Credit: College Press Box (UNC)