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Opinion: Ika Is The One For The Steelers' Defensive Line

Updated: Apr 11

For some players, statistics do not fully encapsulate a prospect's value. This is true in the case of Baylor defensive lineman Siaki Ika. If one were to go beyond his number, what you have is one of the most formidable interior linemen in this year's draft.

What makes Ika special, you may ask? Well, there are few men of his size who possess his level of quickness and agility. In reflection, it is unusual to see a man at 6'4 and over 330 pounds flow in the backfield of opposing offenses. This past season, Ika played 215 pass rush snaps and was given one of the highest grades among interior defenders in the Big 12 conference by Pro Football Focus (76.4).

When it comes to run defense, Ika is adept at using his size and strength to win battles in the trenches. This past season, he graded at 69.1. Yet, this grade does not do him justice, as Ika has shown the ability to make himself immovable at times.

So, why is Ika the right fit for the Pittsburgh Steelers? It is no secret that this offseason has been devoted to upgrading their performance in the trenches. On defense, stopping the run has been a major issue for the Steelers the last three seasons. In 2022, their defense finished 27th in run-stop win rate (28%), a slight improvement from 2021, when they finished 29th in this category.

There will be plenty of worthy interior linemen prospects available to the Steelers in this year's NFL Draft. Yet, if they are looking for one that can overwhelm opposing offensive linemen, Ika is the right one to not only provide stability but to have a dominant presence in the middle, something they have not had since Casey Hampton.

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