NFL

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. 

Related items

  • Bills safety Hyde to miss remainder of season Bills safety Hyde to miss remainder of season

    Buffalo Bills safety Micah Hyde is to be placed on the injured reserve list and will miss the remainder of the 2022 season, his agent has confirmed

    Hyde suffered a neck injury during the Week 2 victory over the Tennessee Titans and was ruled out of contention for Sunday's AFC East divisional showdown with the Miami Dolphins.

    Reports had stated Hyde was set to get a second opinion on his neck injury, but the verdict was not a positive one.

    Hyde's agent Jack Bechta took to social media to confirm his client's absence for the remainder of the season, writing: "Unfortunately client Micah Hyde will be put on IR today due to his recent neck injury.

    "Fortunately, we expect a healthy return for #23 in 2023."

    Reserve safety Jaquan Johnson is expected to step up in the absence of the 2013 fifth-round draft pick, who joined the Bills after three seasons with the Green Bay Packers.

  • Rodgers and Packers aiming to end sorry record against Brady and Buccaneers Rodgers and Packers aiming to end sorry record against Brady and Buccaneers

    The Green Bay Packers' trip to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday will be a tale of two veteran quarterbacks, though each has different form in previous fixtures heading into the latest encounter.

    Tom Brady has thrown 11 touchdowns with zero interceptions in his last five games against the Packers, while Aaron Rodgers has eight touchdown passes and nine interceptions in his five career games against the Buccaneers – the only NFL team he has thrown more interceptions against than touchdowns.

    In 2022, both quarterbacks have two touchdown passes from their opening two games of the season with neither team excelling in the air, the Buccaneers having 402 receiving yards, putting them 26th in the rankings, while the Packers are 19th with 494 yards.

    The Packers have been far more effective with the ball on the ground, accumulating 314 rushing yards and ranking sixth in the NFL, while the Buccaneers are 14th with 224 yards – 192 of which have come from Leonard Fournette.

    Defensively is where Tampa Bay have shone, allowing the fewest points in the NFL this season (13); a tally which stands third in their best-ever starts to the season behind 1992 (10 points) and 2003 (12 points).

    The Packers are no pushovers though, allowing their opponents a total of 33 points in the opening two matches and ranking seventh in that regard. Second-half defence has been integral to that, giving up just nine points.

    With the teams looking well-matched on both sides of the field, it may come down to individual mistakes in possession and the Buccaneers have the edge in that aspect, fumbling just once this season compared to the Packers four.

  • Receivers look to shine again as perfect Bills and Dolphins face off Receivers look to shine again as perfect Bills and Dolphins face off

    A huge divisional rivalry takes centre stage in the NFL on Sunday, as the Buffalo Bills travel to Florida to face the Miami Dolphins.

    Both sides boast a 2-0 record after the opening two weeks of the campaign, though the story of their triumphs has been vastly different.

    The Bills have lived up to their pre-season Super Bowl favourites tag after beating the Los Angeles Rams on opening night and sweeping aside the Tennessee Titans last weekend.

    Outscoring their opponents 72-17 resulted in a +55 point differential for the Bills that stands as their second-best in franchise history at this stage of a season (+63 points after the first two games in 1981).

    Miami, meanwhile, rallied against the Baltimore Ravens last Sunday to incredibly overcome a 21-point fourth-quarter deficit to win.

    It marked only the sixth occasion since 1925 in the NFL where a team has overturned such a margin in the fourth quarter.

    Sunday's match-up will see the top-three players for receiving yards take to the field, with Tyreek Hill leading the way with 284 ahead of the Bills' Stefon Diggs (270) and team-mate Jaylen Waddle (240).

    Hill's 19 receptions have included two touchdowns, while Diggs' 20 receptions have resulted in four TDs – more than any other NFL player.

    Both teams will certainly feel comfortable in targeting those players, with Tua Tagovailoa throwing six TDs last week, including four in the fourth quarter.

    Josh Allen, meanwhile, has thrown at least two TD passes in each of his eight career appearances against the Dolphins. That is the longest such streak against a single team in Bills history.

    Such an array of offensive talent may flip the pressure onto the defenses, though the Bills will feel confident of putting pressure on Tagovailoa having secured nine sacks in the opening two matches – the second-highest in the NFL behind only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (10).

    The Bills also hold the historical edge, boasting seven straight wins against the Dolphins which represents their best-ever sequence against Miami.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.