When the Cleveland Browns selected DT Siaki Ika in the third round of the 2023 NFL draft, it seemed that the team found their big nose tackle, plugger. Soon after, the team released “the call” video that was made to Ika where DC Jim Schwartz told him that he was a “not a dump truck anymore... you’re a Ferrari.”
Fans, media and Ika were all confused by the statement.
Following the drafting of the former Baylor and LSU defensive man, our Barry Shuck provided our readers with a great detailed breakdown of the newest Brown. In that, it was noted that Ika transferred from LSU to Baylor when the Tigers transitioned from the 3-4 to 4-3 defense.
That transition limited the big man’s time on the field and led to his transfer as LSU saw Ika as more of a nose tackle than a player to shoot gaps and get upfield. In our post-NFL draft player profile, we noted how Ika’s presence could help Schwartz’s wide-9 system by taking on extra interior blockers and taking up some extra space that is generally left open by the spread-out defensive ends.
The logic all made sense: A player who was better in college at setting an anchor than creating penetration doing the same at the NFL level. The problem becomes that Schwartz’s “Ferrari” comment is now understood by Ika, as shared by The OBR:
“Real fast, explosive, and vertical,” Ika said. “It’s a little bit different than I’m used to. To get here to a system where everything goes forward, vertical, and disrupt, I’m excited about it.”
So that is what Schwartz meant?
Taking a large human whose athletic testing scores were not great and asking him to do more athletic things than large human things? Just looking at his “Relative Athletic Scores” gives you a simple idea of what Ika is best at (hint: Its not the areas in red):
Siaki Ika is a DT prospect in the 2023 draft class. He scored a 2.61 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 1173 out of 1585 DT from 1987 to 2023. https://t.co/GKbOpuffNZ #RAS pic.twitter.com/mSrk02LcPj— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 7, 2023
Would it be great if a 335-pound defensive lineman could also be disruptive as a pass rusher and cause havoc in the backfield? Certainly. Is it possible that with good coaching, an NFL-level training staff and a better diet plan Ika could become more of that? Of course.
The more important question is whether or not it makes sense to take what a player has struggled with and try to make it his strength after spending a third-round pick on him.
It is possible that Cleveland’s front office and coaches see something in Ika that his testing doesn’t show and was not readily apparent on film. It is also possible that they have confidence in their own ability to mold the former Tiger/Bear into a dancing bear.
For now, the concern is that the Browns are trying to “square peg, round hole” a player they spent a third-round pick on. Could it work? For sure. Is it a risk worth pointing out? At least one person (this author) thought so.
What do you think about the Browns plan with Ika?