Ikem Ekwonu has witnessed a meteoric rise over the past 12 months. This 2022 NFL Draft Profile highlights the reasons why “Ickey” is considered one of the premier players available.
Name – Ikem Ekwonu
Position – Offensive Lineman
School – North Carolina State
Height – 6’4”
Weight – 310 Pounds
Hand Size – 10 1/4”
Arm Length – 34”
Wingspan – 84 1/4”
40-Yard Dash – 4.93 Seconds
Broad Jump – 9’
Vertical Jump – 29”
3-Cone Drill – 7.82 Seconds
20-Yard Shuttle – 4.61 Seconds
The gargantuan offensive lineman, Ikem Ekwonu, grew up in the state of North Carolina. He attended Providence Day School, a private prep school located in Charlotte. Here, he excelled as a member of the football team and the wrestling team, going on to win a state title in the latter. Ekwonu earned a three-star rating and received college offers from a number of different schools, including: Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Harvard and Yale. He turned away all those offers and committed to spending his college days in the same state that he’s lived in his entire life by joining the NC State Wolfpack.
As a versatile member of the offensive line, Ekwonu found playing time at multiple positions. Most of his success has come from his most natural position — left tackle. He was voted a Unanimous All-American in 2021. The accolades don’t stop there. Ekwonu also won the ACC Jacobs Blocking Trophy, given to the best blocker in the entire conference. If the pancakes aren’t enough to get excited about, then I don’t know what else to say. Actually, I do.
Not only is Ekwonu a dominating presence with his otherworldly strength, but he is incredibly agile for his size. He posted a 4.93 40-yard dash, and had everyone’s jaw firmly planted on the floor. Ekwonu’s physical traits are not the only thing regularly on display. He is a brilliant mind, having earned a Business Degree during his time at NC State. He also has a drive and a motor that will not quit until his assignment is laying flat on their back. Let’s peel back a few more layers and look deeper at what Ekwonu does well (and what he still needs to improve).
Strength – If you’ve been paying attention at all, you’ve likely deduced that Ikem Ekwonu is as strong as an ox. He might even deliver a heavier blow than an ox when he gets a full head of steam, honestly. He is routinely on tape piling up stacks and stacks of pancakes that make an iHOP all-you-can-eat-buffet look like a joke. Ekwonu latches on to his opponent and is the best I’ve watched this year in terms of manipulating the defender to go exactly where he wants them to go.
Motor – The motor that Ekwonu regularly displays is awe-inspiring. I have never witnessed the NC State product give up on a play before the whistle is blown. He is relentless and never gives the guys’ lined up across from him a chance to regroup. He keeps imposing his will snap-after-snap until he demoralizes the entire defense. I would not want to see this mammoth-of-a-man coming my way with a steady dose of momentum. Bug meet windshield.
Balance – Perhaps the least flashy — but arguably the most impressive — trait that Ekwonu puts to use consistently is his balance. As stated before, he is as strong as they come and this results in an anchor that will not be moved when he gets sunk in. Furthermore, that impeccable balance shows up as a run blocker too. Oftentimes, players’ can get caught lunging forward from time to time, but there are absolutely zero wasted motions in Ekwonu’s game.
Potential – Ekwonu still has a long way to go to realize his full potential, but that just goes to show how magnificent of a prospect he already is. He was charged with only three sacks allowed in 2021, a stark contrast to the seven that he surrendered in 2020 while splitting time at both guard and tackle. It seems as though giving Ekwonu one position to focus on was a wise decision, and although he is versatile enough to play anywhere on the line, it is smart to put him at either tackle position and let him fully blossom as a prospect.
Inexperience at LT – As stated before, the coaching staff at NC State liked to use Ekwonu in a couple of different positions. Because of this, there are certain aspects of protecting the blindside that he simply has not had a chance to learn yet. Most of these come with experience, and if Ekwonu’s ability to adjust on the fly is any indication, he will master the left tackle position in no time.
Fundamentals – Ekwonu uses his elite physical traits to make up for some sloppy fundamentals at times. While I standby the statement that there are no wasted movements in his game, he still doesn’t make it look at clean as he could. This is not a big deal when going up against ACC pass rushers, but the NFL is a whole different world in that regard. The professionals can pick apart and take advantage of any shortcomings’ that they catch wind of.
There is really not much to dislike about the physical specimen known as Ikem Ekwonu. He utilizes his overbearing strength — the same strength used to claim a North Carolina state title in wresting — to throw defenders’ around like a hip toss on the mat. There are more pancakes than you can count on tape, and you can feel it through the TV screen how demoralized his opponents’ are by the end of the game.
Ekwonu does not only possess superhuman strength, he’s also far more agile than any human being his size should ever be. He uses this surprising mobility to stunt the progression of quicker pass rushers. He also thrives on getting out in space and throwing some nasty blocks at the second level.
There were times that it almost felt like you were watching a bully beat up the same kid over and over again for 60 minutes. Ekwonu is an imposing figure and not one to be messed with when he gets moving. If I could have any player in this 2022 NFL Draft class, the offensive tackle from North Carolina State — Ikem Ekwonu — would be my pick.