Skip to main content

Mel Kiper Jr. Projects Big Leap for Arnold Ebiketie in First Mock Draft

ESPN's draft expert lists the Penn State defensive star among his first-rounders in 2022.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. says he's a "big fan" of former Penn State defensive end Arnold Ebiketie — so much that Kiper has elevated Ebiketie into the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Kiper on Wednesday released his first 2022 NFL mock draft, one that included two Nittany Lions in the first round: Ebiketie and receiver Jahan Dotson. Ebiketie's rise might seem surprising, particularly considering how high Kiper has him being drafted.

Kiper projects the Philadelphia Eagles to select Ebiketie at No. 16 overall, using the second of their three first-round picks.

"I see edge rusher as a priority, even if 2017 first-rounder Derek Barnett, a free agent this offseason, returns to the team," Kiper wrote in his first-round mock. "He has never quite put together a consistent season, and he had just two sacks in 2021. So let's use the pick from the Carson Wentz trade on a rising pass-rusher."

Ebiketie certainly bloomed into a consistent NFL pass-rusher at Penn State, though he can do much more. The defensive end led the Big Ten in tackles for loss (18) and paced the Lions with 9.5 sacks and seven quarterback hurries. Further, Ebiketie blocked two kicks, including a field-goal attempt in Penn State's season-opening win over Wisconsin.

Kiper's grade is the highest Ebiketie has received so far and certainly sets a new level of expectation. NFL Draft Bible lists Ebiketie as the No. 8 edge rusher in the 2022 class, projecting him as a late third-rounder. Meanwhile, The Athletic's Dane Brugler projects Ebiketie to the Kansas City Chiefs late in the second round.

Scroll to Continue

Read More

"Arnold Ebiketie is a potential 3-4 outside linebacker who can rush from the outside track with bend and speed and cover the flat with speed and intelligence," according to NFL Draft Bible. "He can win as an edge setter and use his elite ability to track down runners.

Meanwhile, Dotson continues to receive first-round grades. Kiper has the All-American receiver as the second Penn State player selected (26th overall), joining Mike Gesicki in Miami. And Brugler predicts that Tennessee will select Dotson with the 31st pick.

Ebiketie and Dotson are scheduled to play in the Senior Bowl on Feb. 5.

Read more

First look at Penn State's NFL Draft prospects

Penn State's first roster of 2022 includes some notable changes

After a trying season, Penn State running back Noah Cain transfers to LSU