Surely in the market for interior defensive line help in the draft, the Detroit Lions have had Baylor defensive tackle Siaki Ika in for a pre-draft visit.
The Detroit Lions had an improved defense in line with their 8-2 finish last season. Improvement against the run was notable, outside of Christmas Eve against the Carolina Panthers, but they still allowed 5.2 yards per carry on the ground (tied for second-worst in the league).
Free agency did not yield notable interior defensive line help, so a turn to the draft is coming. Jalen Carter, Calijah Kancey and others are certainly on the radar. According to Aaron Wilson of KPRC, the Lions are scheduled to have Baylor defensive tackle Siaki Ika in for a top-30 visit.
Ika comes in at 6-foot-3 and 335 pounds. He becomes easy to pigeonhole purely as a nose tackle at that size, but he has played a variety of different techniques across the interior and the Lions value that kind of versatility. He had 3.5 sacks and six tackles for loss in 2021, but his production fell off last year.
2023 NFL Draft: Siaki Ika could be a sneaky nice fit for the Detroit Lions
Ika made this year’s “Better Than” group of NFL draft prospects from Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, as in players Prisco likes more than the scouts do.
Here’s some of what Prisco wrote about the big man out of Baylor.
"Ika was close to being the captain of this team. I love his game. He is a huge man at 6-foot-3 and 335 pounds, which is why he was a true space eater in the middle of the Baylor defense. Usually when you watch a player like Ika, you expect to see nothing but a one-dimensional run player, a guy who won’t provide a lot in terms of the pass rush. That’s simply not true. He has the tools to push the pocket at the next level."
Prisco mentioned the natural comparison of Ika to Buccaneers defensive tackle Vita Vea, who Ika said he models his game after. Prisco also mentions things that strike as obvious for someone like Ika–improving his conditioning, managing his weight and taking his technique to the next level at the next level.
Ika is projected as a Day 2 draft pick. So if the Lions go other directions with their first two or three picks, he could land as a viable option.