Skip to main content

Mel Kiper Jr. on Arnold Ebiketie: He's a 'Deserving' First-Rounder

The ESPN analyst has been all-in on Ebiketie since January. 'I think he's a heck of a pick,' Kiper said.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has been all-in on Penn State's Arnold Ebiketie since January, when he listed the All-American defensive end as a first-round pick in his first NFL mock draft.

Kiper hasn't changed his mind, to the point that fellow ESPN analyst Todd McShay goosed him about the assessment on a recent episode of the ESPN First Draft podcast.

"No player in the history of the First Draft podcast has been talked about more than Arnold Ebiketie as the No. 33 player in this draft class," McShay said.

Still, Kiper isn't shying away from projecting Ebiketie as a first-round pick. Even as Ebiketie's name appears in few other first-round mocks.

"Arnold Ebiketie still remains to me one of the guys I like," Kiper said on the April 4 edition of the ESPN First Draft podcast. "I think he's deserving of being in a lot of these first-round mocks. He's deserving of being a guy that you think is one of the best 35 players in this draft."

Ebiketie credited Penn State for helping him climb from an all-conference player at Temple to an All-American with the Nittany Lions. He led the Big Ten with 18 tackles for loss during the regular season and led the Lions with 9.5 sacks. Since then, Ebiketie has taken demonstrable steps forward at the Senior Bowl, the NFL Scouting Combine and Penn State's Pro Day.

"I had a plan going forward," Ebiketie said at Pro Day. "I knew I had to go in there and kind of earn it. Nothing was going to be given to me. So the plan for me was just to go out there and let my work speak for itself at first and kind of earn my role on the team."

That's what Kiper has been praising since January. And he continues to do so.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

"James Franklin loved the fact that [Ebiketie] came in from Temple and he showed up like, 'I've been here for three years,'" Kiper said on the podcast. "He came in humble, ready to work. He got that locker room right away. He went on the practice field and worked hard. Arnold Ebiketie has the makeup, the mindset, the physical and athletic ability is there, the production this year and at Temple, was pretty good.

"He was great at Penn State this year. I think when you look at an outside backer getting off the edge who provides some versatility, Arnold Ebiketie to me is a guy who, if he gets into the second round, I think he’s a heck of a pick. He could be a late [first-rounder], but I still really like what Arnold Ebiketie will bring to a defense in terms of getting after the quarterback."

The 2022 NFL Draft is scheduled for April 28-30 in Las Vegas.

Check out NFL Draft Bible for comprehensive draft coverage.

Read more

Projecting Penn State's 2022 NFL Draft

Meet Mitchell Tinsley, Penn State's new No. 5 on offense

Undrafted out of Penn State, Ryan Bates is a success story in Buffalo

AllPennState is the place for Penn State news, opinion and perspective on the SI.com network. Publisher Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, tracking three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkWogenrich. And consider subscribing (button's on the home page) for more great content across the SI.com network.