Comes off the edge fast
Gets O-Line on their heels
Staying at home
Stance is telling
Hau’oli Kikaha is an exciting pass rusher to watch out for this upcoming year. Kikaha is one of those players that jumps out at you when you are watching film. Even if you do not know where he is lined up as soon as the ball is snapped you go ‘oh man who is that guy.’ His stats speak for themselves, but as we all know, stats do not always tell the whole story. In this case though…the numbers do tell most of the story.
Kikaha has a number of attributes that will have NFL scouts drooling this offseason. He is just flat out fast for his size or any size for that matter. There is a big difference between quickness and speed. Make no mistake, Kikaha has both of those abilities and uses them to his advantage all of the time. Often he will line up over the tackle and then gets outside so quick that it puts the offensive lineman on his heels. Then Kikaha either takes him outside around the edge and blows right by him or gets his hands inside and starts pushing the lineman back. It is interesting because it is hard to tell if Kikaha is strong enough or needs to add some strength for this upcoming season. What I mean by that is that he comes off the line so fast that it is hard to tell if he is pushing the lineman back because of his momentum and low positioning or if he’s just that strong. Either way it never hurts to add strength at that position so in order for me to save face we’ll just agree that he could get stronger for this upcoming season.
Hau’oli has great hand technique when taking on the offensive linemen. He keeps the offenses’ hands off him to keep him free to make plays on the ball all over the field. There were not too many times when reviewing game tape that he got handled and taken out of the play by the offense.
Another thing that is apparent when watching Kikaha’s film is his high motor. He does not seem to wear down as the game goes on which is impressive because he plays at such a high and physically demanding pace. From the snap of the ball to the whistle he is constantly moving at 100 miles per hour. He makes mistakes, but he makes them giving 110%, so they are often mistakes that you can live with as a coach or scout.
As with any player there is always room for improvement and this is no different for Hau’oli Kikaha. One disadvantage that he has against him right now is his size. By checking different websites you can conclude that he only weighs between 245-250 pounds. He will need to add some weight and bulk up to continue to be effective at the next level.
Kikaha speed is one of his greatest attributes but also hurts him at times. There are a few occurrences where he gets such a head of steam that he misses a tackle or overcommits on a play leaving a gap where he was. If he can work to hone and refine his speed he will be an even more dangerous pass rusher than he is now racking up 13 sacks last season.
Finally, Hau’oli needs to work on his stances when lining up for a play. He has three distinct different stances that I saw lining up on defense. The stances are telling and give hints to the lineman about what he was going to do on that play. When he stood as a linebacker but on the defense line he would lightly rush giving him the ability to peel off and contain or work down the line. He would line up in your traditional defensive end stance and consistently rushed the quarterback hard. Lastly, he would line up in a traditional stance but on his heels and he would usually barely rush or drop a yard or two into more of a coverage position. If he could mix up the consistency of the stances it would put more pressure on the lineman to react to what was coming.
Overall, Hau’oli Kikaha is a great pass rusher that seems to have the attitude that will only help him work to get better. He is an exciting player to watch making big hits and getting sacks. He flies around the field and makes plays all over. He will be fun to watch evolve this upcoming season.
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