Hau’oli Kikaha, Washington DE/OLB: Seahawks Draft Profile


You’d think 32 sacks in two seasons would garner more than a third-round grade. Apparently, it does not. Hau’oli Kikaha began the draft process as a late-first rounder, but has since dropped significantly.

Kikaha was a unanimous first team All-American in 2014 for the Washington Huskies, and for good reason. He set the UW single-season records for sacks (19), tackles for loss (25) and tackles for loss yards (139) in his senior campaign. He was also a finalist for the Polynesian Player of the Year Award, the Lombardi Award, Butkus Award, Lott Impact Trophy, Ted Hendricks Award and was a Bednarik Award Semi-Finalist.

Hau’oli Kikaha’s Strengths

The first thing you notice when watching Kikaha is the explosion off the snap. He routinely beats tackles on their outside shoulder, and has a great rip move to get up the field. In fact, his hands in general are fantastic. He is experienced in both judo and wrestling, so that makes sense. He also has great balance and change-of-direction giving him a deadly counter to his speed rush.

He is a smart guy both in the classroom (2014 Academic All-District VIII), and also on the field, when it comes to play recognition and understanding his gap responsibilities. He also is good at fulfilling his gap responsibilities. He isn’t as big as you’d to see from a 4-3 DE, but he can definitely set the edge. Multiple times throughout the season he put offensive tackles on their backs. Kikaha is also good in space, changing directions smoothly and rarely missing tackles.

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The attribute you always want from your edge rushers is tenacity, and he has tenacity to spare. With a constant motor, he keeps working even if his initial move is stifled. Against the run, he pursues with as much intensity even if he is on the opposite side of the field. Making “out-of-zone” plays is typically a baseball stat, but Kikaha makes a lot of them on the gridiron. He overflows with passion, but doesn’t lose his cool. A rare ability for anyone in general, but especially football players.

Hau’oli Kikaha’s Weaknesses

There isn’t much material for this section of the scouting report. Kikaha is a very versatile player, but if he ends up in a 4-3 system, he will have to add some bulk. He gets pushed around at times in the run game. He is generally good in coverage, with his athleticism and change of direction, but he gets caught QB-watching occasionally. If he ends up in a 4-3 system, he will need to work on being aware of the receivers in his zone.

He suffered a pair of knee injuries in 2011 and 2012, which could deter some teams. However, he came back better than ever with 32 sacks the next two seasons, as well as a new name, (he previously went by the last name Jamora).

Hau’oli Kikaha to Seattle?

I’m not sure what happened between the end of his senior season and now that lowered his draft stock so much, as he had decent results at his pro day, but this could be good news for the Seahawks. Bruce Irvin is owed $7.5 million if Seattle chooses to pick up his option, and Kikaha is a very similar type of player, just without the off-field shenanigans.

If he is available at no. 63, I could definitely see the Seahawks giving Kikaha a look, although there are definitely some more pressing needs. Pete Carroll and John Schneider typically draft for the best player available rather than need, however. If he is still on the board at no. 95, as some are predicting he will be, book his flight to Seattle.

Previous reports in the Seahawks Draft Profile series include:

Photo credit for all above pictures: USA Today Sports