BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - New Orleans Saints fans know that the 2014 defense lacked aggressiveness and failed to get the job done. The end result, the Saints were able to post under 7 games under the win column last season and failed to crack the NFL Playoffs.
In day two of the 2015 NFL Draft the Saints had two picks in the second round. With the 44th overall selection coach Sean Payton and General Manager Mickey Loomis decided to pull the trigger on Washington linebacker Hau'oli Kikaha.
NFL analyst say the 6-foot-3, 253-pound Kikaha brings something the Saints lacked last season, a pass rush. He had 19 sacks in 2014 and ended his college football career with 36 sacks.
He was a first-team All-American selection.
Kikaha says he didn't visit with the Saints in New Orleans, but is happy to continue his football career with the Saints.
“First of all it has been an amazing experience and a long journey with me and my friends and everyone that brought me to this point, "stated Kikaha. "As far as the Saints are concerned, I met with them a few times and enjoyed all of our interviews. I did not go on a trip. I talked to the guys a fair amount and then it kind of stopped for a while and I wasn't sure, but anyhow I am very excited to be a part of this organization and contribute where I can.”
Kinkaha, a native of Hawaii has a background of judo and wrestling and he says those two sports have helped him develop his pass rush ability.
“The core fundamentals of those sports are based on balance, power and angles, and not to mention hand-fighting with judo and wrestling as well, "said Kikaha. "All of those things go into what a pass rusher does, and practicing for over eight years has helped me develop all of those fundamentals that we translate on the football field.”
Kikaha does have a history of knee injuries. He suffered back-to-back ACL tears before his 2014 season.
Kikaha said, "It was pretty hard for me to take. But they're in the past and I've overcome those things along with my family's help and support and Coach and friends that brought me through those times. It was a rough period, and I'm glad those are long in the past. I've been able to excel since then.”
He said he enjoyed visiting with Saints head coach Sean Payton and the New Orleans coaching staff.
“I thought they were quite genuine. They weren't afraid to be themselves when we were in there, "stated Kikaha. "I felt like a lot of teams hold back or pretend to be someone else while they are in their meetings so they can see how the player reacts to them, and analyze their psyche a little bit when they enter the interview room. When I went into the Saints interview room, it was normal talking and laughter, and pure joyfulness."
The Saints had two draft picks in the 3rd round and went after a quarterback with the 75th overall draft pick. Colorado State's Garrett Grayson is a 6-foot-2, 213 pound signal caller who has been described as throwing an accurate deep ball. Could he be the quarterback of the future for the Saints? Too early to tell but he'll get his chance to learn the tricks of the trade under veteran quarterback Drew Brees.
Rounding out the Saints second pick in the 3rd round, Florida State cornerback P.J. Williams.
New Orleans has two more draft picks in the 5th round, one in the 6th round and one in the 7th.