You have to love North Carolina State’s left tackle Ikem Ekwonu, who is said to have a massive collection of syrup bottles for all of his pancake blocks.
I know I love him.
Ekwonu plays on the offensive line with a defensive mentality. He is a rare, violent and devastating blocker. Ekwonu is one of the most aggressive football players I have seen on offense or defense in 40 years. There have been times where he either runs defenders off the screen or he hammers them into the turf.
It is fun to watch players like this.
In their most recent first-draft mock, Pro Football Focus projects Ekwonu going No. 10 overall to the Jets. While that maybe is not the sexiest pick with their second of two first-rounders, it would be a well-needed selection.
The Jets allowed the fourth-most sacks in the NFL in 2021 (53) and they were not too far from the Bears (57), who were the worst in the league.
If you do the math, the Jets are giving up an average of 3.11 sacks per game. That is not even taking into account how many pressures and hurries the Jets’ offensive line gave up on top of the sacks.
To put matters into further perspective, the defending Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave up 23 sacks this season.
Sacks, pressures and hurries given up disrupt the flow of the offense and can lead to incompletions, and interceptions. So, while all eyes are on the receiver who drops the football that is a tad bit out of reach or on the quarterback who just threw the pick, make no mistake, it often starts with an offensive lineman’s ineffective block up front.
With questions surrounding LT Mekhi Becton, the 11th player taken by the Jets overall in the 2020 NFL draft, it may be time to turn the page and select Ekwonu.
There is no question Ekwonu would bring an ass-kicking mentality to this offense that does not exist. Ekwonu brings a Hall-of-Fame aggression level.
I do not know how many more different ways I can say it; Ekwonu is special. He has an Erik Williams, Lomas Brown, Jackie Slater feeling to him. There is an air about Ekwonu that cannot be taught.
Ekwonu does not have the greatest of feet, but he is my LT1. He has elite power, brute strength and a dominant presence. If I were the Jets’ general manager, I would take Ekwonu over Alabama’s Evan Neal or Charles Cross of Mississippi State. It is not even close. I want Ekwonu stepping off the team bus first on game day.
#79 LT Ikem Ekwonu 6-foot-4, 320 pounds
2021 game film reviewed: Clemson, Mississippi State, Miami and FSU
Grade: First Round (Top 10)
Thick aggressive athletic tackle with brute power, good technique and average lateral foot and playing speed. Kicks out and sets up with nice wide stout base. Fluid looking. Iron anchor. Big bubble. Powerful upper and lower raw body strength. Nobody is bull rushing this guy. Mean. Uses hands well and looks to get his big mitts on pass rushers and stalemate with power on the perimeter. Long arms. Challenged often with stunts and blitzes and did an above average job picking them up. Handled spin. Susceptible to speed rushers inside or through the back door. Tends to stop moving his feet and relies solely on strength and can get out of control. Compensates with outstanding recovery effort and fight to stay with it, and get the job done most of the time. Decent at getting out in space on screens to push and shove around. Can deliver some wicked shots if he has it lined up. Mauling run blocker. Road grinder. Punishing. Physical. Excels at using massive frame to drive defenders off the ball or positional block inside. Gets strong movement. Delivered countless pancake blocks. Loves to finish. Average at connecting at the second-level. Shoves and can get out of control. Plays until the whistle. Bully of a run blocker. Pro Bowl level.
This is not just another run of the mill offensive lineman. This is the type of alpha who changes a culture, and transforms a team into a winner.
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