Should the Browns draft Mazi Smith or Siaki Ika in second round?
Siaki Ika, DT Baylor 6-foot-4, 355lbs
Siaki Ika excels against the run. He’s a big guy and he’s not afraid to use his weight. Ika will line up anywhere from a 3 technique to a zero technique. Ika hits opponents with heavy hands often knocking them back.
He will occupy space forcing ball carriers to go around him. He plays single-gap defense complimenting his normal double-gap technique. He squats into a gap closing it off to ball carriers. As a run defender, Ika is the classic hold-your-ground at-all-costs type of player.
His weakness lies in his lack of quickness. When defending zone schemes, he struggles to get in front of the initial blocker. The initial blocker is usually the one going after the linebacker.
It’s vital at the NFL level that the defensive tackle is quick enough to occupy two blockers running parallel down the line of scrimmage. At 355 pounds, Ika struggles to move parallel to the line of scrimmage. This constitutes a major red flag in the AFC where there the Cincinnati Bengals and Baltimore Ravens employ zone-based schemes.
Ika often found himself on the bench during passing downs. This could be by design to save him for running down or a result of his lack of pass-rush skills. Nonetheless, when he is rushing the passer, Ika collapses the pocket on quarterbacks forcing them to move laterally out of the pocket. In this respect, Ika would be a great compliment to defensive end Myles Garret who often sees quarterbacks step up in the pocket to elude him.
Outside of his excellent bull rush, Ika struggles to rush the passer. He uses no secondary moves and rarely hand-fights. Teams double-team Ika on the pass rush neutralizing him as a threat. Unless he learns a more sophisticated means of rushing the passer, Ika will be relegated to a two-down player in the NFL.
Ika and the Browns
If the Browns want a two-down run stuffer, Ika is clearly the man. He can stuff up the middle of the offensive line with a double-gap technique. But his lack of quickness makes one pause for concern over zone schemes at the NFL level.
His pass-rush skills will need to be developed. His bull rush technique is extremely effective. But in the NFL, a defender needs multiple moves and countermoves. Only rare exceptions like Garret can make it in the NFL with one pass-rush technique.
If Ika is available at pick 42, he’s being projected as high as pick 20 to the Seattle Seahawks, he may be the answer to the question. But the Browns should not trade up for him. The chances of Ika being available at 42 are better than half. A desperate team could do anything. But a one-dimensional run-stuffing nose tackle should not go in the first round.