Summary: Kikaha was one of the nation's best pass-rushers across the last few years. He had a slow start to his career as he was a backup in his first couple of seasons. Kikaha also missed 2012 with a knee injury, but he came out of nowhere to be one of the best pass-rushers in college football in 2013.
Kikaha ripped off 13 sacks with 70 tackles, 15.5 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and three passes batted in 2013. He was even better in 2014. The senior led the nation in sacks with 19 and was a pass-rushing force from start to finish. He also had 66 tackles, 25 tackles for a loss, three forced fumbles and two passes batted. Kikaha was extremely consistent, recording a sack in every game. He had five multi-sack games, including three with more than two sacks.
At the Senior Bowl, Kikaha illustrated that he needs some work for the NFL as an outside linebacker. He also isn't large enough to be more than a situational defensive end for obvious passing plays if he were drafted into a 4-3 defense. Still, Kikaha is a natural edge rusher. He is quick off the edge with good hands and agility to get by blockers. Kikaha is just a natural pass-rusher with good instincts on how to take on blockers and get to the quarterback. He closes on the signal caller and produces a lot of pressures even when he comes up short of a sack.
As a run-defender, Kikaha is better in pursuit. It would help him to add 5-10 pounds of muscle to hold up in the NFL when runs come downhill straight at him. He will have to move to outside linebacker in the NFL in a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme. The 3-4 would be his best fit. In a 4-3, Kikaha would be a Sam (strongside) linebacker who rushes off the edge in obvious passing situations. Either position will take some transition time compared to how he played in college, so there shouldn't be expectations that the rookie will be a double-digit sacker straight away. Kikaha may take some time, but he seems to have the natural pass-rush skills and the desire to become a quality NFL contributor.
Kikaha looks like he could go in the second or third round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Bruce Irvin. Kikaha isn't as good of an athlete as Irvin or as fast, but they are a similar size. Irvin (6-3, 248) has flashed some pass-rush skills in the NFL but the Seahawks rotational edge rusher hasn't been all that consistent. I could see Kikaha being a similar type player. He looks like a second-day pick, which is where Irvin should have gone.
NFL Matches: Tennessee, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, San Diego, Arizona, Cincinnati, Indianapolis
There are a number of teams that could use pass-rusher. Kikaha could land with one of the AFC South franchises early in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Tennessee needs a pass-rusher for Dick LeBeau's defense. Derrick Morgan did well in the switch to the 3-4, but the Titans could use another edge rusher for the other side. Kikaha would be a nice fit in Tennessee with the organization's third-round pick.
The Jaguars could use a LEO linebacker for Gus Bradley's defense. Kikaha could fit the role that Bruce Irvin has played for Seattle. Jacksonville needs to improve its edge rush and Chris Clemons is aging. Kikaha would make a lot of sense for the Jaguars early in the third round if they haven't already taken an edge rusher.
Pittsburgh has to get a rusher to go with Jarvis Jones. Jason Worilds isn't a long-term answer, plus Jones is still an unknown. The Steelers' biggest needs are edge rusher and cornerback, so Kikaha could be in play for Pittsburgh as soon as the team's second-round pick.
Similarly, Atlanta has a dire need for edge rushers, and Kikaha could be a fit for the Falcons. The Chargers have a couple of young unproven edge rushers in Melvin Ingram and Jeremiah Attaochu, and might want to get another competitor to replace Dwight Freeney.
The Colts also need to replace Freeney as Bjoern Werner has yet to break out. Indianapolis could use another rusher. Arizona needs a replacement for John Abraham, and Kikaha could be a good fit as a Cardinals edge rusher.
The Bengals had a pitiful pass rush in 2014 aside from Carlos Dunlap. They also could use help at linebacker. Kikaha could be the linebacker/edge rusher that Cincinnati had envisioned for James Harrison.