Can Alabama OG Emil Ekiyor be the next Crimson Tide offensive lineman to earn an early selection in the NFL Draft? Ekiyor’s scouting report will be the subject of much discussion over the coming months, but another season playing alongside Evan Neal can solidify his standing as one of the best blockers in college football.
Emil Ekiyor NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Offensive Guard
- School: Alabama
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 324 pounds
Emil Ekiyor Scouting Report
Alabama is an offensive line factory. Well, in actuality, it’s an everything factory, but the offensive line is very much included. In the past five NFL Drafts, eight Alabama offensive linemen have been selected. Stalwart sentries like Ryan Kelly, Cam Robinson, Jonah Williams, Jedrick Wills, and Alex Leatherwood all appear set to serve as anchors on their respective lines for years on end.
Early on in the 2022 NFL Draft cycle, Alabama already has a few more names on their way through the pipeline. Monstrous right tackle Evan Neal is viewed as one of the best prospects at his position, but Ekiyor also has some appeal. Playing next to Neal at right guard, Ekiyor boasts many similar qualities to both current and former Tide linemen. But how does his NFL Draft scouting report stack up?
Emil Ekiyor’s athletic profile
Immediately, Ekiyor’s scouting report bears some similarity to 2021 NFL Draft prospect and Alabama product Deonte Brown. Brown was heavier than Ekiyor, but both guards are stout, wide-framed, and powerful. For Ekiyor, this frame comes with many of the same strengths and weaknesses as well.
Standing at around 6’3″, 324 pounds, Ekiyor has a strong base that can absorb power. He has the density of a brick wall, and he doesn’t often cave amidst impact. On top of his frame size, Ekiyor possesses solid proportional length for his frame. With his reach and strength, the Alabama OG can impose his power and generate displacement in the running game.
Like Brown, Ekiyor’s mobility is far from elite, but he has some redeeming athletic traits, nonetheless. Ekiyor has exceptional balance when leaning past his center of gravity, and he also has some definite lateral mobility and closing burst in the trenches. He transfers his weight well when side-stepping, and his high-effort style helps to maximize his athletic traits in action.
Execution beyond the athletic traits
Athleticism is arguably the most translatable NFL indicator across position groups. However, on the interior — where spaces are smaller — players can compensate for athletic limitations with intangible traits. Ekiyor benefits from this function of his position. The Alabama OG isn’t an elite athlete, but with his amalgamation of operational traits, he doesn’t need to be.
Ekiyor’s hands are fast and heavy, and he has good grip strength. He can anchor and re-anchor on a given play. Additionally, he displays the ability to stack defensive hand motions to combat against counters. Ekiyor knows how to get low and attain superior leverage, and overall, he plays with terrific pad level.
Ekiyor brings a lot of energy, and he’s incredibly urgent when pulling in open space. He also has great awareness at the second level and maintains active eyes as he seeks to expand the running back’s window. On passing reps, Ekiyor owns a proactive help mentality, and he’s more than willing to put opposing defenders on the ground. He also has the wherewithal to pick up blitzers after taking on his initial assignment.
Areas for improvement
As strong as Ekiyor’s NFL Draft scouting report appears to be, there are a few holes in his profile, many of them stemming from his athletic parameters. Ekiyor’s hips are a little tight when changing directions, and his feet can be somewhat plodding in pass protection. His mobility diminishes as the space he has to cover grows, and he’s not the smoothest mover overall.
Additionally, while Ekiyor shows flashes of lateral mobility and burst, his natural explosiveness can be a concern at times. He only shows that spryness in spurts, and he doesn’t quite have the corrective lateral agility to recover from missed blocks. Among other things, Ekiyor’s pursuit speed isn’t great, either. He doesn’t have the athleticism to pursue defenders at the second level consistently.
Ekiyor could potentially play at a lighter weight and unlock more mobility. Even so, there are other areas of his game that need further refinement. The redshirt junior sometimes engages a bit early with his hands, sacrificing positioning and leverage. Additionally, he can overshoot his blocking angles at times. As stated earlier, this can be hard for Ekiyor to recover from, given his mobility restrictions.
Emil Ekiyor’s NFL Draft scouting report overview
2021 will be a big year for the Alabama product. He may be a slightly better athlete than Brown, but a lot of the same mobility questions persist. With his urgency and power, Ekiyor is a more than serviceable run blocker. He has the balance, grip strength, and hand usage necessary to be a stellar pass protector as well. Even so, his perceived athletic limitations cloud his stock.
Ekiyor could presumably trim down to 310-315 pounds, but his power is an important part of his game that shouldn’t be tampered with. The Alabama OG is a strong, smart blocker who lives up to his potential in close quarters. The questions come in space, where Ekiyor doesn’t quite have the mobility to provide consistent value. If he can find a way to unlock more athleticism while maintaining his power and density, he could go off the board before Brown did in 2021.
Emil Ekiyor’s Player Profile
Nick Saban has built a titan in Tuscaloosa, and naturally, recruiting plays a large part in maintaining his talent base year over year. Alabama is consistently in play for the best recruits in the nation, and Ekiyor entered their sights during the 2018 cycle.
He was a four-star recruit in the 2018 recruiting class and ranked as the 51st-overall recruit on ESPN’s board. Additionally, Ekiyor was ranked as the third-best recruit at the offensive guard position, and he was the top-rated player in his home state of Indiana.
After logging a 5.18 40-yard dash and a 26-inch vertical at 6’3″, 339 pounds, the massive Indiana native drew a plethora of scholarship offers from various schools. Respected programs like Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida, Auburn, and USC all submitted bids for the behemoth blocker. Nevertheless, an offer from Alabama proved too enticing, and Ekiyor enrolled with the Crimson Tide in 2018.
Ekiyor’s career at Alabama and NFL Draft ascension
For the first two years of his Alabama career, Ekiyor was valuable offensive line depth for Saban’s squad. He played in four games in his true freshman season before redshirting and moving on to 2019. That’s when the Alabama OG saw more playing time, earning appearances in eight games. However, a starting job still eluded the former top prospect.
In 2020, Ekiyor finally got his chance to play on Alabama’s starting front, and he delivered. He started all 13 games at right guard, contributing to a dominant blocking unit that won the 2020 Joe Moore Award. He didn’t earn all-conference recognition, but with Brown, Ben Cleveland, and Trey Smith all moving on to the NFL, there’s a chance for Ekiyor to join the next wave of interior line talent.
If he delivers on that opportunity in 2021, Ekiyor could ride the wave to an early selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.
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