Kikaha is the fourth UW player taken in the first 44 picks of the NFL draft.
Hau’oli Kikaha, the Washington Huskies’ career sacks leader, was selected by the New Orleans Saints with the 44th pick in the second round of the NFL draft Friday.
Watching the draft with family in his native Hawaii, Kikaha became the fourth former Husky selected in the draft. Danny Shelton (12th, Cleveland), Marcus Peters (18th, Kansas City) and Shaq Thompson (25th, Carolina) all went in the first round Thursday night.
Kikaha was the fifth unanimous All-American in UW history last fall, when he led the nation with 19 sacks, a school single-season record. He also holds UW records for career sacks (36) and single-season tackles for loss (25).
He was twice named to the Pac-12 Conference’s academic first team, and one of his anthropology professors, Dr. Holly Barker, called Kikaha the best student she’s ever had.
Kikaha tore the ACL in his left knee in 2011 and tore it again in 2012, wiping out two seasons at UW. He returned to the field in 2013 with a new uniform number (8) and new name, after going by Hau’oli Jamora early in his career.
Kikaha’s stock might have taken a bit of a hit because of his 4.9-second 40-yard dash time at UW’s Pro Day last month, but ESPN’s Todd McShay considered Kikaha one of the most underrated players in the draft.
“I love this guy,” McShay said last month. “The tape is outstanding. He plays physical, he’s tough, he will set the edge versus the run. … I personally hope he lands in a good place as a 3-4 outside ‘backer, because I think that’s what he is. What he does best is get up the field and counter move when reached. …
“I really like his game. He’s probably going to slip because he ran a 4.9. He doesn’t have the longest arms. We do this every year: We get so caught up in these stupid numbers, but on tape find me a better player. … He’s all over the field. … There’s nothing that Kikaha cannot do, and that’s why I’ve got an early second-round grade on him, and I’m well aware that he could fall to the third or even the fourth round because of some of the durability issues. We’ll see. Time will tell.”