Ikem Ekwonu’s versatility is exactly what the New York Jets offensive line needs
Most, if not all, New York Jets fans are hoping to land an edge rusher at the top of the 2022 NFL draft. The top two names are obvious, in Kayvon Thibodeaux and Aidan Hutchinson.
At one point, nobody thought the Oregon stud could fall to No. 4, yet here we are. It’s extremely possible, whereas Hutchinson feels like a safe bet to be gone prior to the four-spot.
What does Joe Douglas do if both edge players are selected in the top three? This is the question.
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Meet Ikem Ekwonu.
The NC State tackle is currently the No. 2 offensive lineman in the pool, behind Alabama’s Evan Neal. Yet, Ekwonu is probably the much better match for this New York Jets offensive line considering his versatility and aggression.
Ekwonu is an absolute bully of an offensive hog, something Douglas loves (see the Mekhi Becton pick in 2020). Better yet, Ekwonu possesses the skill set to play guard in the NFL—unlike Neal, which is much more of a question for the Bama stud.
Will Douglas complete the offensive line in drafting Ekwonu, if both edge rushers are gone? Does he fit at both guard and tackle? Is he worth the 4th overall pick?
Strengths and Weaknesses
- Takes good angles to overtake blocks on combos
- Ability to snatch and trap bull rushes/long arms
- Comes off of combo blocks with good timing
- Active eyes in pass protection
- Strong anchor and bridge
- “Latch and screws” in pass pro
- Plays with good extension
- Uses overlap technique
- Active drag hand (could play with more extension to it)
- Gets hips around on zone blocks to get positional leverage
- Picks up stunts well
- Understands “lose to gain”
- Moves with good balance on 2nd level
- Doesn’t get over toes in the second level
- Plays with good leverage in the run game
- Attacks hip/ribs to move
- Throws wrench when beat inside
- Grip strength
- Can play offensive tackle but is a great fit at guard
- Doesn’t chase in zone blocks, disciplined to angles/assignment
- Good vertical movement for size
- Good cut blocker
- Strong base and core
- Doesn’t overcommit to blocks in pass pro, stays square, aware of other threats
- Over aggressiveness can hurt him
- Can both leave feet during pass pro punch or have feet locked into turf
- Oversets too often
- Average lateral movement
- Hands not “on guard” in pass protection
- Feet can be slightly clunky/heavy
- Needs to widen with outside punch instead of either opening or locking into ground
- Almost always shoots two hands, locking hips out and needing to land hands instead of alternating punches
- Hands carry low
- Needs to reset his hands more consistently instead of reaching for contact
- Could take bigger steps/jump to get into anchor quicker
- Punch can land wide