Position: Defensive End
Despite having a double ACL tear on his left knee, Kikaha has maintained very good burst/short-area quickness out of his stance to initially beat OTs off the snap. He lacks the lateral agility in his legs to get around blocks consistently and it is a struggle for him to change directions very suddenly. His foot fire isn’t particularly fast but it is relentless. He does an outstanding job of keeping his feet moving around the edge rushing the passer even during contact. He has good dorsiflexion around the edge from both sides as well as in his right knee when rushing from the left side. Coming from the right side his knee flexibility is lacking due to his previously mentioned injuries. He has lost his footing several times from this side when bending around the edge. One of the more impressive qualities is his coordination when fighting through blocks. He often executes an array of pass rush moves while keeping his feet moving as well as stacks/sheds very well/quickly. Keeps his arms and legs moving in unison very smoothly.
Section Grade: 6.7
Pride / Quit
Kikaha has overcome two ACL tears to his left knee and plays the game with an obvious appreciation for what he’s had to overcome. Not only does he play with a very good motor, he obviously studies film and works on his technique regularly. He posted 25 TFL & 19 sacks not through elite athletic tools but rather elite technique, moves, efficiency, and understanding the nuances of his position. He has been extremely consistent in his two full seasons as a starter both vs the run and the pass. He has been the Huskies most consistent defensive player the last two seasons as well.
Section Grade: 7.2
Learn / Retain
Instinct / Reaction
Kikaha plays the “buck” LB position on the Husky defense or in other words the “joker.” Kikaha shows the mental capacity to handle lining up in several different spots in every game I watched. He lines up both on the left and right equally, in a 2-pt and 3-pt stance, a wide 9, 1 tech, and as an ILB in blitz packages. He demonstrates excellent instincts on the field, vs screens, read/option, diagnosing pulling OL quickly, and filling the gap with force. Constantly reads the ball while engaged with blockers and gets off blocks quick enough to make tackles. Plays the game with an intense focus for whats going on in front of him.
Section Grade: 7.2
Strength / Explosion
Kikaha has very good height, what appears to be average arm length, and a well-proportioned balance of muscle throughout his body. He is a more smooth/strong than cut/twitched up athlete. I’m grading his durability as solid/good (6) despite his ACL tears because he has started every game the last two seasons with no sign of wear and tear. Kikaha isn’t an incredibly explosive athlete but rather has enough to be a very effective pass rusher and penetrator in short spurts. He has very good strength at the POA due to a sophisticated understand and application of leverage. This is where and how he wins in the run game. He can get moved around fairly easily if he doesn’t win the initial leverage battle as he doesn’t have a ton of brute strength to hold up vs bigger/stronger OL.
Section Grade: 6.4
7 Read & React
Kikaha consistently has his eyes in the backfield while engaged and gets off blocks very quickly. Also reacts very well to cut blocks, rarely ever allowing blockers into his legs
6.5 Initial Quicks
Does a very good job of getting his body out of his stance quickly, gets his hands into center of blockers’ chests quicker than they do his, but doesn’t have great or elite wiggle/twitch
6.5 Play Strength
Wins at POA with outstanding use of leverage & fast/aggressive hands to get initial pushback and hold his ground. Doesn’t possess enough functional strength or jolt to go head to head with bigger/stronger OL and out muscle them.
7.5 Use of Hands
Tremendous use of hands both in the run and pass game. Disengages quickly and keeps OL off his body extremely well. Has an arsenal of pass rush moves and counters that he uses very effectively
7 Shed Blockers
Through a high level of coordination, hand quicks, and foot fire he is a very difficult guy for blockers to handle. Sheds blockers with ease at times with great leverage, along an effective club and rip move. Needs to improve vs double teams (knifing himself through).
6.5 Run at Him
Despite not having much brute strength or much sand, he does an excellent job of leveraging himself around blockers and also uses their momentum against them very well.
6 Pursuit / Range
Kikaha locates the ball very well and pursues with tenacity but doesn’t have range to chase down skill positions or outrun angles consistently.
He puts himself in good positions to make tackles but doesn’t wrap up consistently or snap his hips on contact all that well.
6.5 Closing Burst
Does a very good job of closing in on the QB around the edge and makes up for average explosiveness in the open field by taking excellent angles to the ball .
6.5 Power Rush
Displayed a very impressive hump move in the ’14 Illinois tape where he gets OL off balance to the outside and comes back inside by tossing him off his feet. Shows the ability to convert speed to power at times but needs to continue to get stronger.
7.5 Speed Rush
The most sophisticated speed rusher I’ve studied so far. Uses a variety of polished moves to generate his high sack total including a very smooth spin, an excellent dip and rip move, an effective straight-arm, and his best move: the chop and rip.
Doesn’t make hardly any mistakes in the tapes I’ve seen. Puts himself in positions to make TFLs consistently. Very disciplined player on misdirections as well.
Section Grade: 6.7
6.5 INITIAL QKS
7 PLAY SPEED
6.5 PLAY STR
Section Grade: 6.8
Overall Grade: F 6.8
Kikaha is a relentless player who plays with an advanced application of leverage vs the run and pass. Possesses a very quick/powerful punch as well as excellent hand placement center mass. He keeps his eyes on the ball when stacking and he sheds very quickly. Has the ability to set the edge with a very effective stab combined with excellent leverage. Takes very good angles to ball both in pursuit of ballcarriers and to the QB. Has an arsenal of developed pass rush moves to include a dip n rip, chop n rip, spin, straight arm, as well as a hump move. He uses the hump move surprisingly well (see ’14 Illinois tape) due to his ability to start outside, use leverage against the OL to knock them off balance, and work back inside smoothly. Very smart and skilled player who rarely gets fooled on misdirection plays.
Isn’t very strong at POA (doesn’t have great sand) and will give ground vs the double team. Doesn’t convert speed to power exceptionally well due to not having a ton of pop in his hips. Above average tackler but needs to wrap up more consistently as he misses tackles in nearly every tape. His COD is lacking due to not being very sudden. This could be due to his previous injuries. Doesn’t have very good long speed and isn’t very twitched up.
Hau’oli is RS Sr who began his career appearing in all 13 games as a true freshman, starting the final 7 and finished the year with 33 solo tackles, 7.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks, & 1 FF. He tore the ACL in his left knee as a sophomore after 4 games then re-tore the same ACL in fall camp as a Junior and was awarded a redshirt. Kikaha returned as an RS Jr better than ever and improved in 2014 becoming an unanimous First-Team All-American. Kikaha finished his career as the Huskies all-time leader in career sacks, single-season sacks, and single season tackles for loss. He leaves Washington with 206 total tackles, 140 solo, 36 sacks, 51.5 TFL, 7 FF, and 6 PBUs. Kikaha plays the buck LB spot for the Huskies lining up primarily as a 5 tech. in a 3 point stance. He also lines up in a 2pt stance off both the left and right sides, wide 9 technique, 3 tech., 1 tech., and as a blitzing ILB. Kikaha also has an extensive judo and wrestling background from high school that is an obvious help to him on the field.
Kikaha has a sturdy frame with well dispersed muscle throughout both his upper and lower half. He has a strong base and extremely strong hands. Kikaha uses great leverage and a very powerful, accurate punch to stack/shed blockers consistently. He has a very strong lockout and keeps his eyes in the backfield through contact while breaking off to make tackles routinely. Despite his 246 pound frame he isn’t a liability in the run game head up with blockers and he has the ability to get small so OL aren’t able to get into his chest. This also enables Kikaha to set the edge very well with a strong stab and a low/strong base. He doesn’t convert speed to power very well due to lack of pop in his hips so while he can hold his ground if everything goes right, he doesn’t have the strength or power to overcome poor technique. He pursues the ball extremely well and is very smart in his play recognition. He has a very good motor and instincts which he uses to track and meet the ball. Doesn’t have very good speed but gets by with a very good first step. Not a very rangy player but is incredibly crafty. Kikaha is a technician in the passing game with an arsenal of moves that I previously mentioned. His best move is the chop n rip. Using his very strong arms/hands he does a great job of keeping OL’s hands off his body around the edge and becoming a small target. He has excellent counter moves including a sophisticated spin and hump move. He uses the OL’s momentum against themselves around the edge and works back inside very well. He looks comfortable in space in the tapes I saw when he is in zone. He’s very aware but doesn’t have very good COD which hurts him if he has to turn and chase. Overall, Kikaha gets by on smarts, effort, outstanding technique, and a rare understanding of the nuances of his position. Without having access to his peers or coaches I can almost guarantee he has a tremendous work ethic. Kikaha won’t awe people with athleticism but he has enough burst to win around the edge and more than enough skill to beat the man in front of him consistently. If his knees check out and hold up I see him having a very long, productive career in the NFL and with the chance to make a couple pro bowls.
Pro Comp – Mike Vrabel