Defensive tackle Siaki Ika first rose to football prominence at East High in Salt Lake City, where he racked up more than 200 total tackles during his junior and senior seasons.

The four-star recruit had a number of high-profile college offers, including from BYU coach Kalani Sitake, who had been watching him play since elementary school.

Ika ultimately chose to begin his college career at LSU, and he helped the Tigers win the 2019 national championship as a true freshman. The next year, he entered the transfer portal mid-season and enrolled at Baylor in January 2021.

At Baylor, the 6-foot-3, 335 pound Ika raised his profile and earned All-Big 12 honors for his play. He logged 25 tackles in 2021 and 24 in 2022, and he ultimately decided to forego his final year of eligibility to enter the 2023 NFL draft.

The decision has led Ika to the Cleveland Browns, who selected him with the 98th overall pick in the third round of the 2023 NFL draft on Friday.

What NFL draft experts said about Siaki Ika

“While he has the potential to become a highly effective block-eater as an odd or even front nose tackle, he’s quick enough off the snap to penetrate and disrupt play design if teams try to block him one-on-one. While he’s unlikely to see passing downs, Ika does have enough athleticism and hand work to challenge the pocket from time to time.” — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com.

“Siaki Ika’s lateral agility at his size is a sight to behold. Centers expected him to try to play through them, and Ika consistently left them grasping at air over the course of his Baylor career.” — Michael Renner for Pro Football Focus.

“Ika is a nimble, disruptive big man with stout, powerful traits, but all of his impressive parts don’t consistently add up to impact plays.” — Dane Brugler, The Athletic.

What experts said about the selection

“Defensive tackle was one of our top needs for the Browns, both immediately and in the future. Dalvin Tomlinson was signed to a long-term deal, but Jordan Elliott enters free agency after the season. Ika is a more traditional nose tackle prospect, but he’ll collapse the pocket in the passing game when put into the right situations.” Matt Miller, ESPN.

“In no way, shape or form did we expect Ika to last this long — nor did we see him going after Brodric Martin. Despite Ika’s limited value as an ox-strong nose tackle, he plays with good stamina and was more of a playmaker prior to last season. This is good value here.” — Eric Edholm, NFL.com.

Previous East High players who made it to the NFL

  • Jaylen Warren, running back, Pittsburgh Steelers (2022-present).
  • Will Tukuafu, defensive tackle, Seattle Seahawks (2014-2016), San Francisco 49ers (2010-2014).
  • Sione Pouha, defensive tackle, New York Jets (2005-2012).
  • Mat Mendenhall, defensive end, Washington Redskins (1981-1982).
  • Bob Summerhays, linebacker, Green Bay Packers (1949-1951).
  • Paul McDonough, end, Cleveland Rams (1939-1941), Pittsburgh Pirates (1938).
  • Milton Romney, quarterback, Chicago Bears (1925-1928).