Sep 27, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) avoids the pass rush of New Orleans Saints linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha (44) during the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Carolina defeated the Saints 27-22. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Hebert – neworleanssaints.com
HAU’OLI KIKAHA, DEFENSIVE END / EDGE RUSHER
Kikaha was a highly regarded pass rusher from the University of Washington that the Saints spent a 2nd round pick in the 2015 draft to bring on board.
Kikaha’s rookie season was somewhat uneven, but he finished with 4 sacks, numerous quarterback pressures, an underrated run defender, and a penchant for being around the football.
The plan for Kikaha was to be the primary edge rusher, opposite defensive end Cam Jordan in passing situations. Unfortunately, Kikaha suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during a Saints mini camp practice in May, and has not played a down this year.
It was Kikaha’s third ACL tear on the same knee since college, so his ability to maintain his explosiveness is under scrutiny until he proves otherwise.
The Saints certainly hope that Kikaha does just that.
The team’s major weakness continues to be the lack of consistent pass rush; they simply do not have that single player who keeps opposing quarterbacks up at night with worry.
Although New Orleans will certainly address this position over the off-season in both the draft and free agency; for Kikaha to show why the Saints invested a high draft pick on him would benefit Dennis Allen’s defensive scheme as much as the last player on our list…