We wrote a bit in January about NC State’s Ikem Ekwonu potentially being the best offensive lineman in the draft. Well, he certainly thinks so, as he told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine Thursday that he’d “definitely deserve” to be drafted No. 1 overall, according to Darryl Slater of NJ.com.
He’s not totally off base in his thinking. ESPN’s Mel Kiper mocked Ekwonu to Jacksonville in his latest mock draft just before the Combine. According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, many at the Combine, including ESPN’s Todd McShay, expected Ekwonu to blow up in Indianapolis.
There’s already been a bit of talk connecting Ekwonu to the Jaguars. General manager Trent Baalke has a tendency to prefer explosive linemen and Ekwonu demonstrated his explosiveness in field drills including an impressive sub-5.00 second 40-yard dash. Baalke and new head coach Doug Pederson will be looking to put together a group at offensive line that can protect former No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence and create holes for running backs James Robinson and Travis Etienne.
Jawaan Taylor is expected to compete with Walker Little for the right tackle job. Captain Brandon Linder should return to form at center after MCL and ankle injuries forced him to miss a large part of the 2021 NFL season. Andrew Norwell is expected to hit the free agent market and Cam Robinson could join him if the team decides not to utilize their franchise tag on Robinson for the second straight year. Veteran sixth-man Tyler Shatley was recently re-signed and Ben Bartch could help out at guard. So the versatility of Ekwonu could line him up as the perfect choice for Jacksonville’s current situation, where lots of question marks surround the depth chart. Even so, the Jaguars could also fall in love with Evan Neal, who is largely seen as the top pure tackle in the draft.
Still, the redshirt sophomore out of Raleigh is a young, talented prospect with the ability to dominate at tackle or guard. Even if he slips past Jacksonville at No. 1 overall, don’t expect him to be available after both New York teams get a chance to draft. Ekwonu will aim to be only the third Wolfpack offensive lineman in history to be picked in the first round, the highest-drafted Wolfpack prospect since Bradley Chubb in 2018, and, above that, the first top overall pick out of NC State since Mario Williams in 2006.
13 comments on “Jaguars Looking At OL Ekwonu With Top Pick”
Is Peyton Manning’s retirement more controversial than I realize…?
Well he didn’t waiver like TB or Aaron. He just made a decision!
Rodgers and Brady are still really good. By the time Peyton retired, he was a shell of himself.
Yes, but the NFL ensured that he got one last ring.
Yeah I don’t get the comments being closed on it.
It’s Zach Links. After all this time, he still doesn’t know how to post.
Wolfpack in the HOOOOOOUSE!
I think it is pretty obvious the Jags are thinking offensive line with the #1 pick. Now which guy is going to be their choice is going to be the question because they both bring different skill sets to the table. If I was the one choosing between the 2 players, I would be leaning towards Neal. He has the better game film consistently against the bigger opponents. He can be the run blocker needed for Robinson and has the pass blocking needed right away for Trevor. Taking nothing away from what Ekwonu has done and what could be. He needs some time and coaching.
I think the position the Jaguars are in right now is perfect for what they need, protect Trevor Lawrence.
They may just re-sign Cam or Norwell and get the pass rusher at #1 though.
We have no pass rusher other than Josh Allen and could piece together the O Line especially if we take the best C or G left at top of 3rd round.
Or package a few picks and move back into the bottom of round 2 and get a top 5 Center or Guard.
So don’t completely rule out a Edge rusher at #1
I know they need OL, but I’d only take Ekwonu or Neal if I truly thought they were the best prospect in the draft at #1.
I’m a Jags fan….have been since day 1.
So I can honestly tell you that it doesn’t matter which player they take at #1 cause whichever they choose it will be the wrong one.
Now who we take after the top 10 may matter but we can’t pick a Star in the top 10 to save our lives!
2013 was the last time the Jags went back to back drafts without using their first pick on a home state prospect. They’ve finally done an overhaul of their scouting department so it will be interesting so see how that works out.
Top of the 2nd Round could get you a very good pass rusher that could compliment Josh Allen rather nicely. I don’t think that 2nd Round pick of offensive line help or a make shift offensive line will benefit Trevor Lawrence as much as Neal or Ekwonu would.
You are right though, can’t rule out pass rusher but the drop off by round could be impactful.