2022 NFL Draft: NC State Tackle Ikem Ekwonu Shows Out At Combine

2022 NFL Draft prospect Ikem Ekwonu #79 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
2022 NFL Draft prospect Ikem Ekwonu #79 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

North Carolina State tackle Ikem Ekwonu put together a very good combine performance, and still is in contention to be the top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

The offensive linemen took the field at the NFL Scouting Combine on Friday, and the headlines surrounded the top three at the tackle position. Evan Neal didn’t participate in testing and drills, but both Charles Cross and Ikem Ekwonu did.

Ekwonu grabbed some headlines early, running an impressive 4.93-second forty, a confirmed time that was just .02 seconds off the leader at the position. His 10-yard split, used to measure explosion out of a stance, was in the 1.76 range (unofficial), also an impressive number.

Ekwonu also jumped nine feet in the broad jump, which lands himself in the 80th percentile in that testing category. He also looked fluid in the drills, showing off the foot quickness, impressive flexibility, and explosion on pulling drills.

His current RAS (relative athletic score) sits at an 8.72u, which is in elite territory for the position that has to deal with elite athletes rushing the quarterback. Seeing that athleticism manifest itself in the tests is just a box-checking process along the way, but an important one.

After the performance today, it raises a particularly interesting question. Could Ikem Ekwonu be in play for the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft? We know that the Jacksonville Jaguars will likely choose between offensive tackle and edge rusher, and might opt to protect Trevor Lawrence better as he enters his second season.

Neal is still the favorite, but there’s a chance that Doug Pederson could push for Ekwonu, who brings the tenacious mentality up front and can get out and lead the way in the run game. With under two months to go, the intrigue will only grow at that selection, one that really doesn’t have a consensus for the first time in several years. Don’t rule Ekwonu out.