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- Position: Edge rusher (ER)
- Class: Senior (redshirt)
- College: Washington
- Ht/Wt: 6'2", 253 pounds
Hau'oli Kikaha is a smaller edge rusher with somewhat limited athletic ability, but who is nonetheless productive in a variety of schemes. Kikaha has great fluidity to his movement, and yet isn't a guy with great burst. Kikaha has a strong punch, but isn't able to generate much force thanks to his short arms; it's easier for linemen to get their hands on his chest than vice versa.
Kikaha predominantly rushed from a two-point stance in college, but occasionally flashed a three- and even four-point stance in games. He was moved around the line, but mainly rushed over left tackle. He was also sent into coverage, but was mostly used as a space-eater or decoy. He has the movement skills to do some part-time work in coverage if needed, though.
Coming to football with a judo and wrestling background, Kikaha is capable of a variety of pass-rushing moves. He sticks mainly to bull rushes and the "dip and rip" move around the outside of the offensive tackle, and has also flashed a good counter move. Kikaha has a nonstop motor and will chase down the ballcarrier on every play, but he can sometimes get into a rut with his approach. When he mixes things up and uses a variety of moves, it's easier for him to shed blocks and make plays.
There's one other noteworthy detail in evaluating Kikaha: while he's had a productive college career, he also had two ACL tears a few years ago, which gives him some injury flags. They may have sapped some speed, as well. Scouts will need to decide how worried they are about his long-term viability in the NFL.
I like Kikaha, but he's definitely a prospect with a tough combination of great traits and concerning ones. For a pass rusher, being slower, short-armed, and having had two ACL injuries definitely makes me worry. On the other hand, this is a player who had a streak of 14 consecutive games where he had a sack, and he has the work ethic and combat skills to be successful in the league, at least for a few years. I like him as a third-round pick, and I'm really curious to see how the NFL rates him. A guy like this could end up sneaking into the end of the first round if one team falls in love with him, or it's possible he falls to the bottom of the draft if his medicals don't check out.