2015 NFL Draft Player Profile: Hau’oli Kikaha

Hau’Oli Kikaha played his college ball in the Pac-12 Conference at the University of Washington, where he actually led the entire nation in sacks last season.  The New Orleans Saints drafted this outside linebacker in the second round of the draft, with the 44th overall pick.  He was dominant at his position in college, earning a place on both the All-American and All Pac-12 first teams in 2014. In addition, his final two years had him combine for a total of 32 sacks, 40 tackles for a loss, and six forced fumbles – all of this coming with him starting all 27 games.

He is fast for his position and goes after the quarterback hard.  He does not give up on a play, will go where the ball is, and is highly intelligent as a football player. He also possesses excellent hands and can recover fumbles in traffic. Another strength is his ability to change direction on a dime, all the while being able to maintain a low center of gravity on the rush, without having his feet taken out from under him. On occasions where he is taken away from the ball, he recovers quickly and is able get right back into the play. He did not participate at the combine, but did have an average pro day. He was able to run the 40 yard dash in 4.9 seconds, had a vertical jump of 34.5 inches, and a broad jump of 9 feet and 4 inches. In addition, he has a short shuttle time of 4.33 seconds, did the 3-cone drill in 7.13 seconds, and was able to bench press 225 pounds with 20 repetitions.  Kikaha comes in at 6’2” and 253 pounds, has a 32.5 inch arm span, and his hands are 9 5/8”.

Graphic via baltimoresportsandlife

A noticeable weakness comes in his tendency to get swallowed up in the run game when playing defensive end. In addition, his knee, which kept him out of the combine, has been a problem for parts of past seasons.  He has also been accused of having a limited range of movement, and of doing the same thing play after play, which the pros would certainly be able to read easily if it continues. He also needs to work hard on playing more consistently within the spaces, and he does get a bit overly aggressive at time, which will be an issue when going up against seasoned veterans on the offensive line. Because of his two ACL injuries, medical staff will watch him closely and this could limit how far he goes at the pro level.  In the end, however, if he is healthy, he was the most accomplished pass rusher in the draft, so the Saints defense certainly has gotten a boost by selecting him.

Graphics via gohuskies

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