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Why Browns believe Siaki Ika can become D-Line 'Ferrari'

Ika carries a rare level of mobility for his size and can do more than stop the run


Jim Schwartz wants his new defensive tackle, Siaki Ika, to play like a Ferrari.

What does that mean? At first, Ika — whose nickname is "Apu" — wasn't sure when he heard Schwartz, his new defensive coordinator, tell him that in the moments after the Browns selected him in the third round of the draft last week.

"You play the game the way it should be played, so we're real excited to have you here," Schwartz said. "You're not a dump truck anymore now, Apu. You're a Ferrari."

It sounded cool, but Ika didn't quite know the meaning of it.

"To be honest, I don't know what it means," he said the next day at his introductory press conference. "I will do whatever he wants me to do. I will be a Ferrari. I will be a Chevy, if you want me to be. Probably means just growing up, becoming a pro."

Browns Executive VP of Football Operations and GM Andrew Berry provided some clarity on Schwartz's metaphor.

"It means that he no longer has the two gap," Berry said. "He just has to get up the field and disrupt, get off the ball, as opposed to just build a stone wall and hold up the offensive line."

Check out photos of Browns 2023 third round pick Siaki Ika.

To expand on that answer, Ika will have a chance to do more than just be an interior cog. He'll still be great at doing that with his 335-pound frame, one that could be slimmed down a bit for his rookie season, but he'll also be asked to do something he was great at as a junior at Baylor.

Attack the quarterback.

That's a skill Schwartz is hoping to unlock with all of his defensive linemen this year. The Browns know they'll have plenty of sacks coming from Myles Garrett, but they need more from the rest of their new-look defensive line, too, and the Browns believe Ika can be one of the contributors.

"I like getting after the quarterback," he said. "I'm not the first person people would look at to get after the quarterback, but it's something I think I can do. It's something I think I can do here with the coaching and development."

Ika found success in that area in 2021 when he totaled a career-high 4.5 sacks. That number dropped to zero as a senior, but it didn't mean he lost the traits to barrel through blockers and reach the QB. He still recorded five QB hurries that season.

The Browns' belief in Ika's pass rush abilities come from the way he managed to remain agile despite his heavy size. Ika ran a 5.39 40-yard dash at the combine — a respectable time for a player weighing over 320 pounds — and the Browns were wowed at the ways they saw him maneuver around blockers when they watched his tape.

"We viewed Siaki as a little bit unique, because you don't usually see those bigger guys that you feel comfortable to play in an over front," Berry said. "We did, and we thought that he actually has the mobility to do it, and that's what attracted us."


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Mobility is a trait that comes naturally for Ika, who said he played closer to 340 pounds last year and is capable of shedding a few more pounds if the Browns believe he needs a thinner build to move even faster in the NFL.

"I never put much thought into (my size and speed) until once I got to college and I realized that I do move pretty well for a big guy," he said. "Since then, it's something I've prided myself on. I feel like that's what I brought to the table."

Ika will have an immediate chance to earn a big role as a rookie. He and new free-agent acquisition Dalvin Tomlinson are the two heaviest players in the defensive tackle room, and their size and quickness should work well with how Schwartz plans to build an aggressive defensive line.

"I'll call it a 'Schwartzism,'" Berry said. "(Schwartz) wants guys to be as big as they possibly can, without sacrificing movement. For some guys at defensive tackle, that may be 305 and others that may be 355. Siaki has been anywhere from 335 to 355, depending on what the scheme required. For us, we'll work with him when he gets on site for what we're going to ask him to do, but he has played effectively throughout that weight range."

Bringing a Ferrari-like mindset is also a requirement for Ika when he arrives in Cleveland.

He's ready to bring it.

"Definitely going to start looking at myself as a Ferrari now," he said with a smile.