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Chargers make it to AFC Championship game, select Baylor DT 29th overall in 2023 draft

Ika was the Big 12’s Newcomer in the Year after transferring from LSU prior to the 2021 season.

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Even after adding both defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson in free agency, many believed the Chargers still had a strong chance of selecting Georgia’s Jordan Davis should he have been there at #17.

He never made it that far as he was taken at #13 by the Eagles, but it wasn’t the end of the world for the Chargers who went on to pick a plug-and-play starter in offensive guard Zion Johnson. Even since the draft, the team went on to add yet another defensive lineman in Morgan Fox. That signing made it three new defensive lineman for the Bolts, all of whom should be upgrades over their starting three in 2021.

So with those additions in mind, could the Chargers be looking at even more interior reinforcements in next year’s draft? ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller believes there’s a chance for that scenario according to his latest “way-too-early” 2023 mock draft.

In his mock, he has the Chargers picking 29th which also means he believes the team could very well make it all the way to the AFC Championship. However, that also means the team fell one game short of the Super Bowl. Even in a fictional exercise like this, that hurts.

But with the 29th pick, Miller has the Chargers selecting Siaki Ika, a massive defensive tackle with the athleticism to be an impact player in both the run and as a pass rusher.

“If you watched the Chargers in 2022, you know how important it is that their defense improves against the run,” says Miller. “Ika would boost the interior immediately. The 6-foot-4, 350-pound tackle is an anchor in the middle, and he also has enough quickness to make an impact as a pass-rusher (he had four sacks in 2021). He’s not quite on the Jordan Davis level of speed and physical traits for a big man, but his NFL usage could be similar.”

On top of those four sacks, Ika also finished with 24 total tackles and six tackles for loss with a lone pass deflection at the line of scrimmage. He was named the Big 12’s Newcomer of the Year after transferring in from LSU after two years in Baton Rouge. Heading into his fourth year of eligibility, Ika is looking to string together another conference championship with the Bears and if he retains his level of play for one more campaign, the first round is certainly in his future.

But does that mean he’ll end up being a target of the Chargers during next year’s draft? In my opinion, that’s unlikely. Unless the Joseph-Day and Johnson signings end up imploding in the team’s face, I expect the franchise to look at other positions in the first round.