The Seattle Seahawks defensive line needs to improve across the board in 2023 if the team wants to achieve their aspirations of winning at least one playoff game. Al Woods was arguably the best and most consistent defensive lineman for Seattle last season. However, the former LSU Tiger will be turning 36 before the ‘23 season gets underway so it would be foolish for Pete Carroll to rely on him to make a similar impact. Additionally, like Woods, fellow veteran interior defensive lineman Shelby Harris is entering the final year of his contract.
As a result of the age and contract statuses of the Seahawks interior defensive line it has quietly become a must address position for Clint Hurtt’s defense. Down below we are going to break down the draft’s best nose tackle in Baylor’s Siaki Ika.
Height - 6 foot 4 - Weight - 354 pounds
Game watched 2022 - BYU, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, TCU
- Against the run, Ika has the strength and low pad level to stand up to double teams right at the line of scrimmage making him a clogger. When doubles are able to leverage him and move him back it is a max of 1 to 2 yards, meaning he is still able to impact the play. His bendy upper body and great balance come into play here as there are instances where he is getting pushed from the side and straight on. In these situations, he is able to stay upright and maintain his play strength throughout the duration of the down.
- When matched up against a single blocker Ika is a mismatch. He has the power and heavy hands to drive the interior offensive lineman right back into the backfield. He also does a great job of utilizing his eyes and length against singles which allows him to 2 gap with ease. Ika has the play strength and tackling acumen to make one arm tackles in the hole allowing him to shut running plays down at or near the line of scrimmage with ease.
- Ika does a great job of removing cut back lanes in the running game by staying engaged with plays run to the opposite side of him. Rather than floating down the line of scrimmage, eliminating himself from the play he keeps his eyes on the running back and maintains his leverage and engagement with the offensive lineman.
- His best attribute in the passing game is his hands. He is very accurate with his hands strike point, almost always hitting lineman right in the chest.
- His hand usage does result in some effort pressures and hurries.
- His go-to move as a pass rusher is a straight bull rush which he wins with at a rather high frequency against single team blocks. He does a great job of gaining leverage off of the snap, driving his hands right into the chest plate and getting push in his lower half to drive the lineman right into the lap of the quarterback. Offensive lineman struggle to anchor down against him when he gains leverage off of the snap making his bullrush even more effective.
- Ika is a player with zero counter moves as a blitzer so if his initial attack gets stopped, he gets stood up and makes next to zero impact on the play. When stood up he does try to disengage to become a spy, but he does not have the quickness required to keep the quarterback inside the pocket if they break contain.
- When double teamed in the passing game Ika is not able to make any type of impact as he simply gets stood up.
- When Ika gets stuck on the field against the pass, he fatigues quickly which means after three or four plays he leans heavily on the offensive lineman, which makes it impossible for him to generate any type of pressure. In order to be effective as a pass rusher Ika needs to be heavily rotated throughout the course of the game.
- He lacks a second pass rushing move aside from his bullrush. He has a swim move that right now is a little below average but could become average with more refinement.
Ika projects best as a three-down starting nose tackle in either a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. He is impactful enough against the pass to where he can be used on third downs and obvious passing situations. If a defensive coordinator is able to scheme him up to get a single team block as a blitzer, he is going to win that snap consistently. He will also be a major asset against the run because of his FBI, play strength, tackling and ability to gain leverage.
Ika’s ability to stand up to double teams, strong bull rush, football intelligence, good tackling and intelligent hand usage gives him the ceiling of a strong three down starter, however his short stamina, lack of a full pass rush repertoire and inability to beat doubles in the passing game give him the floor of a 2 down starter.
Grade - Three down starter - Early second round pick
Ika is an absolute force against the run and is far and away the best nose tackle in this class. He is not at the level of a Vita Vea because he does not have the pass rushing abilities that the former Washington Husky has. However, that is not to say he will not be impactful against the pass in the NFL. I can see him getting 4-5 sacks a season, which paired with his impact against the run and in short yardage situations makes him an extremely valuable piece for any defensive line. The only reason I gave him an early second-round grade instead of a late first is because I do not think he has the pass rushing repertoire from the inside to warrant being picked in the late 20s. But if he were to be selected late in the first, I do not think that would be a reach by any means.