The Las Vegas Raiders have been lacking a dominating interior force on the defense for years. However, the 2023 NFL Draft has various options to solidify the defensive tackle position. Baylor University’s Siaki Ika would offer a massive boost for the Silver and Black.
Siaki Ika’s Background
The 6-foot-4, 360-pound behemoth hails from Salt Lake City, Utah. Siaki Ika was a four-star prospect that played his first two years of Division I football at Louisiana State University. He appeared in 13 games as a true freshman and played a role in the team’s 2019 National Championship win. In his junior and senior years as a Baylor Bear, Ika earned consecutive first-team All-Big 12 honors. In addition, he was also a finalist for the 2022 Polynesian Player of the Year award.
Ika’s Elite Strength
When it comes to the trenches, play strength is king. Everything about Ika’s presence lives up to elite play strength as a nose tackle.
Siaki Ika eats the double team, is able to split it and make the stop for a short gain. pic.twitter.com/bO0EyVM6Rx
— Tyler Browning (@DiabeticTyler) September 16, 2022
Regarding blocks, the Baylor standout commands the attention of two blockers routinely. In addition, Siaki Ika can routinely anchor and maintain gap discipline, making him arguably the 2023 NFL Draft’s best-run defender along the interior defensive line. He possesses strong hands also to shed and push back even the most vigorous opponents with an incredible long-arm technique.
Nice little one arm stab from Baylor DT Siaki Ika pic.twitter.com/RbZxk4ARaS
— Garret (@FBallAnalysisYT) January 27, 2023
But what makes the Polynesian special is a tribute to his roots.
Siaki Ika Possesses Unique Gifts
In many prospects these days, competitive toughness can be lacking. However, Baylor’s standout defender brings the heat to every play with his white-hot motor. At his size, many would presume him to be predominantly a 2-down run stopper, but Ika shows that he can play and make an impact on every down.
#Baylor DT Siaki Ika (6-4, 354, SR) LSU transfer. Heâ€™s an athletic and ridiculously strong 0-tech NT thatâ€™s very light on his feet for his size. Already an A+ run defender and also shows flashes of having passing down value to melt the pocket. Will receive lots of Vita Vea comps. pic.twitter.com/zg3fJXYoU9
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) July 5, 2022
Additionally, Siaki Ika possesses good athletic ability and burst in short areas. As a result, he will thrive in most roles they would put him in for most teams. So how does he fit in with the Raiders?
Siaki Ika Could Transform the Raiders’ Defense
Everything starts in the trenches, and one could easily say the Achilles’ heel to the Raiders last season was the trenches on both sides of the football. Maxx Crosby led the way on defense, but there was too much inconsistency from countless other defensive linemen. For Siaki Ika, he would provide a solid interior defensive line presence that the Silver and Black could build around. While he would be better suited in an odd front-based defense, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has been known for utilizing multiple front defenses. So, in conclusion, Ika is a player you can build around – regardless of scheme.
*Top Photo: Baylor University Athletic Department