Determining the New Orleans Saints’ core players moving forward

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Sep 13, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; New Orleans Saints linebacker Hau

SLB Hau’oli Kikaha:

Kikaha is arguably the most interesting player listed above because to me has the largest gap between his ceiling and his floor. I honestly believe that Kikaha can become a difference maker for this defense and consistently productive pass rusher. However, the reality also exists that outside of his early season bursts Kikaha’s impact on the field has been limited. It isn’t that he hasn’t made some plays and created some opportunities for others, he has, but he hasn’t really ‘flashed’ like he did early in the year. For a player whose best attributes are his nose for the ball and his motor, he has to be able to produce the occasional big play, because he will also give them up.

Kikaha is a bit of a tweener where he is not quite a true SLB, but also not cut out to be a three-down defensive end. The lack of a truly defined position isn’t necessarily a weakness because it allows the team to be versatile in how they use him. What IS a weakness for Kikaha is his lack of a defining attribute. A high motor is great, and good/great teams always have a few guys who simply are able to try harder than everyone else. That is an underestimated skill as far as value is concerned, but the reality is that Kikaha alone isn’t a player who either dictates, or enhances.

What I mean by those two things is that he does not have enough of an explosive impact on the game on a regular basis to change an opponent’s game plan. He simply isn’t that type of impact player, even though he CAN have a huge impact on a game. Kikaha is also not someone who enhances the play of those around him. While certainly he can create pressure that leads to a sack like he did with Obum Gwachum’s sack last week, he doesn’t do that consistently and Gwachum still had to beat his man on his own to have the opportunity in the first place. To ME a core player for the team (and remember this is being restricted to five here) is someone who the team can build around because they possess both of the aforementioned attributes that Kikaha lacks. The ability to dictate and enhance.

I would consider the player Hau’oli Kikaha has shown himself to be to THIS point as a player worth keeping, a guy who can absolutely be a positive going forward, but not as a core player going forward.

Next: Tyeler Davison