It’s time to hunker down.
That’s right. I took my contractually-obligated months-long break to watch football during the season but now, you’re going to have to call me Marshall Mathers in 2001, because baby, I’m Back. I’ve been taking notes on one of those little journalist legal pad things, I’ve been catching up on all the gridiron action I might have missed, the works. I’ve also gotten into some other sports like hockey and soccer. But it’s time for me to get back to my roots. It’s draft season.
As I write this during the Steelers/Ravens game on New Year’s Day of 2023, the draft is 116 days away. It’s currently 10:35 p.m., so let’s call it 115 days to be safe. By the time you read this, it’ll be 115 days. Promise.
Anyways, I’ve got to get you prepared! And to do that, I’ve got to get me prepared. I did a little bit of research during the college football preseason, but I’ve got a lot of work to do before early February when I start my annual NFL Draft cheat sheets. That’s a lot of time, hopefully enough time, for you and me to get draft ready. So, I’ll tell you what. We’re going to do it together. I’m going to review my notes, and consult with draft people I trust, and I’m going to compile a list. This list is in no order, but the message is all the same: I am so excited to watch this draft class in full.
It’s exceptionally difficult for me to decide which prospect I’m most excited for at each position. I’ll save that for my “My Guys” list that I started last year. Not to pull back the curtain too much, but it did pretty well in the old view-count, so I’m going to be bringing it back. Let’s get started. These are my five most anxiously-awaited watches for the 2023 NFL Draft.
Siaki Ika, DT, Baylor
Siaki Ika is awesome. He might end up being my favorite defensive player in this class; I’m not sure on that one just yet, obviously, but he’s the early leader in the clubhouse.
Ika is what some might call an “absolute unit” and I love that in my defensive tackles (read: Jordan Davis). He’s not as much of a complete freak like Davis was last year, or Jalen Carter is this year, but he has an elite blend of athleticism that you only really see in first-round talents. He’s going to be a Scouting Combine darling this spring, I just feel it in my bones. There’s no way he doesn’t test off the charts with what he displays on tape.
Ika measures in, according to the Baylor website, at 6’4 and 358 pounds. Is that height and weight sustainable when it comes to the stamina you need at the NFL level? Probably not. But it’s undoubtedly awesome, and I can only watch in shock and awe whenever I turn on a Baylor game and see Ika bowling over centers and guards who are none the wiser to his sheer power and quickness.
While he does have the jump off the line that I like to see, my biggest concern with Ika is again, that stamina. He might have the Jordan Davis (there’s that name again) problem in the pros, where coaches have to rotate him in and out. If he can prove that he can play starter-level snaps at his height and weight, Ika is going to be a difference-maker for whoever picks him. With his frankly-terrifying measurable, I would have no qualms taking him in the first round right now. Hopefully that holds up once I watch him more closely.