Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor | NFL Draft Scouting Report

Defensive tackles come in all shapes and sizes, but none in the 2023 NFL Draft are quite the same as Baylor Bears nose tackle Siaki Ika. There’s no mistaking the redshirt junior’s gargantuan frame, and at the same time, there’s no escaping it either. It’s easy to think of the Baylor DT as simply a big man clogging rushing lanes. However, as his scouting report reveals, Ika is more than just a giant roadblock at the heart of the defensive front.

Siaki Ika NFL draft profile

Ika was born with NFL-ready size. While that might not be strictly true, he was a man amongst boys at the high school level, measuring in at 6’3″, and just shy of 300 pounds even early in his time at East High School. A Salt Lake City native, Ika was a long-time commit of BYU. However, a breakout season where he earned All-USA Utah Defensive Player of the Year honors saw him attract significant Power Five attention.

As a result, Ika committed to LSU in December 2018 and was a rotational piece on the Tigers’ 2019 national title winning team. He tallied 17 tackles with 1.5 for loss as a true freshman and was expected to elevate himself further in 2020. Unfortunately for Ika, a change of defensive scheme limited his opportunities and impact, and he entered the transfer portal having played just four games in his sophomore season.

LSU’s loss was Baylor’s gain, and the mammoth DT made a significant impact for the Bears’ Big 12 Championship-winning team. Tallying 24 total tackles, Ika was a menace in the backfield with six tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Showcasing a penchant for the big occasion, 2.5 of the tackles for loss came as Baylor defeated Oklahoma State in the title game. Ika was named Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year and earned second-team all-conference honors.

Although attracting attention in the previous cycle, Ika opted to return to Baylor for the 2022 college football season. In doing so, he put himself at the forefront of the 2023 NFL Draft interior defensive line class.

  • Position: Defensive Tackle
  • School: Baylor
  • Current year: Redshirt Junior
  • Height/weight: 6’4″, 358 pounds

Siaki Ika scouting report

Baylor’s draft classes have had a distinctly defensive feeling in the past three years, and with Ika, there’s a chance that continues in 2023. The positional value of true nose tackles isn’t high within the NFL, which could eventually impact how high Ika is selected.

As such, a first Baylor defensive selection on Day 1 since 2011 might be a stretch. Yet, Ika’s scouting report is enticing, and we’ll start it with the strengths the Baylor DT brings as a 2023 NFL Draft prospect.

Ika’s strengths

Did we mention size at any point in the introduction to Ika’s scouting report? It seems almost blasé, but the Baylor DT’s sheer size is truly a strength. At 6’4″ and 358 pounds, there truly are few prospects that command space in the same way that Ika does. He’s the football equivalent of a dam blocking a river to prevent the village beneath it from being flooded. Trying to run your offense through the gap that he inhabits is simply futile. Remove Ika, and the Baylor defense would be substantially more susceptible to attack.

Like Jordan Davis in the previous cycle, Ika is the very definition of “two on me, somebody’s free.” In the games studied, he was routinely double-teamed due to the threat that his size — combined with other factors we’re about to discuss — presents to an offense. Football is a simple numbers game in some respects, and when one player commands the attention of two of his opponents, the equation is favorable for the team with the 6’4″, 358-pound man-mountain patrolling their side of the trenches.

Ironically, given presumptions associated with players of his size, Ika’s run-game ability isn’t the standout element of his game. Despite that, he does offer some upside against the ground game. Ika flashes a high-level ability to read the run and locate the ball carrier, while consistently being able to lay hands on the rusher regardless of their location. Ika isn’t overzealous in his approach to the ground game, instead remaining patient which helps with his overall effectiveness against the run.

What makes Ika’s scouting report so exciting is the upside he demonstrates in the passing game. Already, he has a blossoming pass-rush toolbox that includes chop and swim moves that he consistently deploys to a high level. The Baylor DT possesses fast, accurate, refined hands that rarely miss and allow him to dominate his opponent. Ika’s able to hit and redeploy with devastating quickness. While he’s not the longest DT in the class, he’s also able to disrupt the passing game by getting his hands up into passing lanes.

Siaki Ika
Nov 27, 2021; Waco, Texas, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders offensive lineman Weston Wright (70) attempts to block Baylor Bears defensive tackle Siaki Ika (62) during the second half at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Saving the best for last, Ika boasts an impressive athletic profile. Very few players — let alone players of his size — have the explosion in their game that the Baylor DT possesses. Ika rockets out of his stance, regularly being the first defensive lineman into the backfield. This explosion is evident in his ability to penetrate gaps, whether against the run or in the passing game.

In addition to the explosion element of his athletic profile, Ika also boasts quick feet and decent lateral agility. He can redirect and change direction well for his size, and he’s capable of altering his pass-rush attack from the outside shoulder to the inside shoulder in a heartbeat. Meanwhile, Ika demonstrates good body control in these instances to ensure he slithers through gaps with relative ease.

While you don’t ideally want your 6’4″, 358-pound nose tackle to be the one chasing down ball carriers in the open field, Ika is capable of doing so. He isn’t fast in the same way that Georgia’s Davis was last year, but he hustles back to the ball carrier. One play against Oklahoma State last season is a good example of this ability. The Baylor DT also takes good angles to the ball carrier in pursuit.

Wrapping up the strengths of Ika’s 2023 NFL Draft scouting report is, well, strength. The Baylor DT is more than capable of pushing the pocket backward. He showcases excellent lower body strength to walk offensive linemen back into the path of their quarterback. There were multiple reps in the games studied where Ika pushed both elements of the double-team blocks backward, demonstrating some impressive upper body strength too.

Ika’s area of improvement

While Ika boasts an alluring 2023 NFL Draft scouting report, it isn’t without areas for improvement. Meanwhile, there are some elements that might cause pause for an ascension to the very top of the class.

Although Ika has made a habit out of exploding into the backfield and was productive in his first season at DT for Baylor, he could have been even more so. He sometimes fails to finish, both as a pass rusher and run stopper. If he could work to ensure he brings down his man on the first attempt in the ground game or gains an extra split second of speed as a pass rusher, Ika would prove a more dominant threat in both phases.

Even though Ika has demonstrated a strong lower body with impressive body control and flexibility, there were several reps where he was relatively easily corralled to the floor by his opponent. This was less a result of being brutally bullied by power and seemed to be more an issue of balance.

It could also be a pad-level-related issue. Although the Baylor DT has showcased that he can win in the trenches by being the lower man, there are times when he plays high and leaves his chest open to attack. These instances lead to Ika being physically overwhelmed. Furthermore, he doesn’t possess elite length, which can be an issue when longer, powerful, offensive linemen are able to initiate contact.

Current draft projection for Baylor DT Siaki Ika

Given his 6’4″, 358-pound mass, there’s an obvious and natural positional projection for Ika at the next level. He’s the epitome of a true nose tackle who can attract double-teams to allow his teammates to rack up the gaudy statistics while pushing the pocket to create pressure himself. Although Baylor has been known to align him as a 3-tech, he’ll be deployed over the center or as a 1-tech defensive tackle at the NFL level.

Ika has high-level starter potential in the NFL. How does that translate to draft day? At present, the Baylor DT should be viewed as an early Day 2 prospect at the very latest in the 2023 NFL Draft. His alluring combination of size, lower body strength, athletic prowess, and pass-rush upside are enough to mitigate the areas of improvement — especially given some of those are coachable elements. Ika’s an exciting prospect who can make a significant impact on the league early in his career.