Ikem Ekwonu NFL Draft 2022: Scouting Report for Carolina Panthers' OTApril 29, 2022
HAND: 10 1/4"
WINGSPAN: 7'0 1/4"
40-YARD DASH: DNP
— Unbelievable combination of size, power and athletic ability.
— Dynamite in his hands to jar and shock defenders on contact.
— Bulldozes defenders across the field once he gets inside their frame.
— Twitchy, smooth movement skills to glide around the field with excellent speed to track and erase second- and third-level targets.
— Has a vicious snatch/trap technique to end reps quickly in pass protection.
— Technique started to break down as the season progressed with a series of repeated mistakes.
— Needs to shore up his landmarks in his 45-degree set to reduce the number of times he oversets and opens the door for inside counters.
— Hit-and-miss strike location using his hands that leaves him vulnerable to rushers with a plan and understanding of how to set up their moves.
— Can unnecessarily open his hips early in his vertical set rather than taking an extra kick or two to stay square longer.
— Tends to fly out of his stance on frontside, outside-zone kick-out blocks, opening the door for alert defenders to cross his face for quick inside penetration.
— 11 starts at left tackle.
— Former 3-star recruit with offers from Yale and Harvard who played both offensive and defensive line, was the anchor in the relay for track and won a state championship as a wrestler.
— The name Ikem (pronounced ee-kem) means "my effort will not be in vain."
— His father came to the United States from Nigeria, played college basketball and is a doctor. His mom is a former high school track star, his sister is in medical school, one of his two brothers is a linebacker at Notre Dame, while his other brother is an animator for various Netflix shows.
— Earned second-team All-ACC honors as a sophomore in 2020 at both guard and tackle.
— Academic All-ACC performer for two straight years coming into his 2021 junior season.
Ikem Ekwonu is a former 3-star recruit with a state championship under his belt as a wrestler and impressive track career running the anchor position in the relay at 285 pounds.
Ekwonu plays inside the Wolfpack’s zone-heavy run scheme while operating on an island for the bulk of his reps as a pass protector. He has a special blend of size, power and athletic ability to go along with a tenacious, nasty demeanor as a finisher.
Ekwonu is able to hit, lift and drive defenders around the field and off the screen while imposing his will at an unmatched level relative to other Division I linemen. He fires out of his stance with light feet in his 45-degree sets and heavy hands to strike and stun rushers on contact. He has the quickness to mirror against counters and ride rushers deep in the pocket past the QB’s drop, but he has a recurring issue of oversetting that leaves him susceptible to losing inside. He also needs to stay square a little longer in his vertical set to avoid giving up two-way go's.
As a run-blocker, Ekwonu uses a stunning blend of athletic ability, size and power to dominate on the front and backside of wide-zone runs and in space as a puller to both sides. His ability to track down smaller targets in space as a puller is special, and it results in at least a few spectacular blocks per game. He does have a tendency to get overaggressive at the point of attack on angle-drive and down blocks with a need for more control and patience to his game.
Ekwonu will need to learn to harness his aggressive nature and play with better precision before reaching his full potential at tackle, but he has A+ physical traits and the white-hot motor to appeal to scouts and coaches at multiple positions. He has the versatility to be a longtime impact starter at either tackle or guard in any scheme.
GRADE: 8.9 (Impact Player)
OVERALL RANK: 3
POSITION RANK: OT2
PRO COMPARISON: Jason Peters