The former Washington Huskies DE faces an uphill
climb to make the Saints final 53-man roster.
I absolutely love Hau’oli Kikaha.
p id=”0sahrD”>He was one of the
players I looked at during the 2015 draft season and immediately
pegged as a future Saint. Following the whole Junior
Galette debacle, I figured New Orleans would be in the
running for a similar style player with a much
MUCH cleaner background.
Low and behold, the draft came around, and
after watching guys like Shane
Ray and Randy
Gregory slide due to off-field concerns the Saints
stepped up to the podium and selected the 6-foot-3, 249-pound pass
rusher with the 44th overall pick of the 2nd round.
Wearing No. 44, which I assume
was no coincidence, things started out with a splash as Kikaha
proved to have a knack for the big play. He accumulated 4.0 sacks
and 3 forced fumbles in his first six games before an ankle injury
derailed what had the makings of a very promising rookie season.
He’d eventually go on to finish with 55 tackles, 4.0 sacks, and 4
forced fumbles in 15 games but with no sacks coming after the Week
7 game vs. the Colts.
Still, expectations were high going into his
sophomore year when suddenly calamity reared its grotesque face as
he suffered his third documented ACL during offseason
Kikaha fought back tooth and
nail to make a full recovery, but hasn’t been able to capture the
same magic, bringing us to 2018 where the Saints have moved the
former defensive end to linebacker to compete for the backup Sam LB
position behind incumbent starter A.J.
depth battle to watch for Friday:
J. Elliott (saw 16 D snaps & 10 on ST) vs H. Kikaha
Elliott went against the lesser
talent, but he produced, while also contributing on ST. He’s not PS
eligible so he’d have to make the 53. Could he unseat
— Deuce Windham (@RevDeuceWindham) August
This in itself breeds a slight dilemma as Dennis
Allen’s defense (much like we saw when he took over for Rob Ryan)
tends to use the Sam LB as a traditional off-ball LB. The
responsibilities of this role don’t necessarily play to the
strengths of Kikaha, who is more of an on-ball Sam LB that can set
an edge, chase down plays from the backside, and give you pass
rushing snaps on 3rd down.
Complicating matters further is the fact that the
former Washington Huskie doesn’t provide much in the way of special
teams value, as noted by Deuce above.
Going into his contract year, Kikaha also curiously
made a representation swap to Drew Rosenhaus, suggesting he’s
looking to get paid. Perhaps it’s just me, but I think it would be
hard to put Rosenhaus to good use as a backup and part time
Drew Rosenhaus (@RosenhausSports) May
This could all become moot in the very near future,
but it certainly looked like the Saints were showcasing him during
the preseason game vs. the Jaguars.
With that being said, there are two variables that could make it
harder to unload Kikaha. (A) The suspected availability of Khalil
Mack, and (B) the recent Alex
Okafor injury could up his stock.
Still, this is certainly something to keep an eye on
as the pre-season winds down and decisions on who makes the final
53 have to be made.
Read the Canal Street Chronicles article: www.canalstreetchronicles.com/2018/8/20/17693218/time-will-tell-but-linebacker-hauoli-kikaha-run-with-saints-could-be-nearing-end-preseason-nfl
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