Ikem Ekwonu NFL Draft Overview
Position: Offensive Tackle
Weight: 310 pounds
School: NC State
Ikem Ekwonu 2022 NFL Draft Profile
After spending the past three years at North Carolina State, offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu is skipping the final years of his collegiate eligibility to declare for the 2022 NFL Draft. Ekwonu is coming off the best season of his career, making major strides in pass protection while allowing three sacks, no hits, and 10 hurries.
Ekwonu originally entered the college football ranks as a three-star recruit. Signing with NC State, the North Carolina native found his way into the starting lineup as a true freshman. Playing in 639 snaps at left tackle, Ekwonu finished the 2019 season allowing just three hits and 13 hurries. In 2020, Ekwonu allowed seven sacks, five hits, and 13 hurries while splitting time between left tackle and left guard.
- Mauls and destroys enemies in the run game – probably the best in the class as a run blocker;
- Elite athlete with great physical traits;
- 91st percentile wingspan allows him to engage any defender before they can reach him;
- Fantastic anchor and lower body strength;
- 95th percentile 40-yard dash time makes him a legitimate weapon as a screen blocker;
- Pass protection came a long way in 2021;
- Reportedly a great locker room guy.
- Pass protection, while improved, still has room to grow;
- Lacks elite lateral agility – will have a tough time matching the fastest edge rushers in pass sets;
- Ferocious play style can backfire with lack of control;
- Footwork on pass sets is below-average;
- Hands and feet don’t work always work in tandem, leading to a loss of power.
NFL Comparison: Much better Nate Solder
Teams With Need at Position: Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts, Los Angeles Chargers, New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans
Projection: Top-five pick
Bottom Line on Ikem Ekwonu
In a year with no great quarterback prospects, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a player like Ikem Ekwonu go off the board with one of the top three picks. The second you turn on his tape, you can’t help but notice Ekwonu’s unmatched physical presence in the run game. The NC State product plays the game with a raw fury and just obliterates everyone in his path when run blocking. He’s strong and has great straight-line speed which makes him one of the most dangerous screen blockers in the game. Additionally, reports across the league state Ekwonu is a great leader and presence in the locker room, which is obviously impossible to verify on tape but bodes well for his future.
In terms of run blocking, Ekwonu is as close to a finished product as you can get out of any prospect. His pass blocking, however, could use some work. Ekwonu moves incredibly well in a straight line, but is only average when shuffling east-west. While he’s quick enough to slow down most speed rushers, the fastest of the fast will be able to gain an advantage here. Part of this is because his footwork leaves something to be desired and his upper and lower body don’t always work in tandem in pass protection.
The good news is that Ekwonu’s pass blocking has improved every year he’s been in college, which means that he has the potential to improve in the NFL. If he rounds out this part of his game, he’ll be a top-five player at the position. Even if he doesn’t grow as a pass blocker, he’s still good enough to be a fixture at left tackle for the next decade.
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