NFL Draft prospect Ekwonu: Being number one pick 'wouldn't shock me'

By Sports Desk March 03, 2022

Ikem Ekwonu's NFL draft stock has seen a meteoric rise over the past few months, to a point where the North Carolina State offensive lineman has emerged as a serious candidate for the number one overall pick.

Ekwonu confirmed he met with the Jacksonville Jaguars, the current holders of the top choice, earlier this week at the NFL Scouting Combine, and told reporters on Thursday he would not be surprised if he winds up as the team's selection in April.

"I wouldn't be shocked if I went number one overall," he said during his news conference in Indianapolis. "I feel like that's something I've put the work in for it. I feel like when that time comes, I wouldn't be shocked by it."

In a draft that lacks a consensus top prospect and is considered devoid of a surefire franchise quarterback, Ekwonu has been generating increased buzz as a contender to go number one overall. Long-time ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. concurs, as he projected the Jaguars to take the Charlotte native in his latest mock draft released on Tuesday.

Ekwonu, who earned unanimous All-American honours following his junior season with the Wolfpack in 2021, would fill a need for the rebuilding Jaguars. Jacksonville enter the offseason with both starting left tackle Cam Robinson and left guard Andrew Norwell set to be unrestricted free agents. 

The six-foot-four, 320-pound prospect looms as a possibility for either position, as he started at both left tackle and guard during his three-year stint at N.C. State.

Ekwonu told reporters he would be open to playing any spot on the line, though he believes left tackle is where his NFL future lies.

"I've never been shy about bouncing inside and do the best thing for the team, but if you're asking me, personally, I definitely see myself as a left tackle," he said.

"I feel like I'm barely scratching the surface of my potential at left tackle, and I feel like with some work and some refinement in my game, I can definitely be great at it."

Ekwonu is currently considered one of four main candidates to go first overall, along with fellow offensive tackle Evan Neal from Alabama and two edge rushers – Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson and Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux.

Offensive linemen are scheduled to take part in combine testing and drills on Friday, with the defensive linemen slated to work on Saturday. 

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