Ikem Ekwonu draft stock is up and could be Jaguars pick at No. 1

North Carolina State Wolfpack tackle Ikem Ekwonu (79) at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports
North Carolina State Wolfpack tackle Ikem Ekwonu (79) at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports /

There’s plenty of time before the Jacksonville Jaguars decide whom they will choose with the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. North Carolina State Ikem Ekwonu could make this a tough call and might have a realistic chance to be their choice.

Ekwonu talked to a contingent of the Jaguars sent at the NFL Scouting Combine and said that the meeting went well. Of course, there’s more to evaluating prospects than acing an interview but that’s the thing, the North Carolina native has the size and strength to wreak havoc at the line of scrimmage. He has always been seen as a viable candidate to go No. 1 but his stock has experienced a surge over the last few weeks to the point where it won’t be shocking if he gets the nod.

Although analyst Mel Kiper of ESPN  believes there are four players in contention for the top pick in the draft, Ekwonu, Aidan Hutchinson, Kayvon Thibodeau, and fellow offensive tackle EvanNeal, he sees the Jags taking Ekwonu in his latest mock draft. The former Wolfpack offensive tackle still needs to work his skills, particularly in pass protection and the Jaguars need to decide if he would be better than Evan Neal, who is a worthy prospect himself.

The Jaguars could end up drafting Ikem Ekwonu first overall.

Aidan Hutchinson didn’t test particularly well, or as great as he was expected [correction: he did test pretty well] but he’s still in play to be the top pick in this year’s draft. On the other hand, Kavyon Thibodeaux hasn’t been recently mentioned but he should still be an option to land in Jacksonville.

Having said that, the Jags may be better off going with an offensive tackle at No 1. It would be far from a sexy move but they would ensure that Trevor Lawrence’s blindside is protected for years to come and would allow them to let Cam Robinson walk away in free agency and address other positions with their vast amount of cap space.

If the Jaguars do plan to take an offensive tackle, they would then have to decide who is a better fit, Ekwonu or Neal. Both come with pros and cons but Neal’s flexibility to play several positions across the offensive line could give him the edge. Ekwonu projects solely at left tackle even though he played guard early in his collegiate career. Either way, his talent may be too good to pass up.

Fortunately, the Jaguars still have plenty of time to decide what they will do with the first overall pick but based on how things are playing out, don’t be surprised if Ekwonu gets the nod. After all, he himself wouldn’t be shocked.

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