Alabama might not have an offensive lineman who’ll go nearly as high as Evan Neal did in 2022. But in Alabama G Emil Ekiyor, the Crimson Tide have another NFL draft scouting report worth monitoring. What kind of upside does Ekiyor offer blocking on the interior, and is a starting NFL role in his future?
Emil Ekiyor NFL draft profile
Ekiyor is just the latest in Alabama’s dominant talent pipeline on the offensive line. The Crimson Tide have been churning out high-level OL prospects for over a decade under Nick Saban. Ekiyor has a good chance to be the headliner in the 2023 NFL Draft class.
Ekiyor kicked off his collegiate career with visible NFL aspirations. The Alabama G left high school as a four-star recruit and a top 75 player in the country. Running a 5.18 40-yard dash at well over 300 pounds, he tantalized teams with his potential. Out of Indianapolis, Ekiyor had dozens of offers from high-level Power Five programs. But the chance to join the ranks at Alabama was unlike any other.
It took a couple of years for Ekiyor to get his career off the ground with the Crimson Tide. But fast forward to today, and Ekiyor is coming off his second consecutive season as the starting right guard. He’s started 28 straight contests at the position, mauling SEC competition left and right. That’s all led to the present, where Ekiyor is entering his fifth year as an established NFL draft prospect with all eyes on him.
- Position: Guard
- School: Alabama
- Current Year: Redshirt Senior
- Height/Weight: 6’2″, 320 pounds
Emil Ekiyor scouting report
At 6’2″, 320 pounds, Ekiyor is a shorter lineman, but he has an incredibly strong, dense frame with good proportional length. While he’s not an elite athlete, he does have solid short-area explosiveness. He covers ground quickly off the snap. It’s evident in many situations, especially when he has to roam left as a puller. He’s shown he can quickly get outside the 1-technique and seal him off.
With his linear burst, Ekiyor can surge into defenders and drive open gaps. He also has enough mobility to get out in space and track down linebackers, clearing open lanes. The Alabama G shows good initial lateral burst when entering reps as a puller, and he has decent range as a pulling blocker. Moreover, Ekiyor has shown he can redirect momentum and wall off rushers with his wide frame.
In addition to a serviceable athletic floor, Ekiyor has great power capacity with his frame density and length. The Alabama G can quickly load up and pummel defenders with full rotation. Similarly, his hands are heavy and carry good knock-back power with each strike. Ekiyor is able to draw power up from his strong base and uses it to shock opponents at contact.
Ekiyor is powerful, but his strength is an even more impressive part of his game. The Alabama G has the grip strength to recover positioning and leverage after losing a step initially. Not only that, but he can also latch onto the torso and maintain grip even as defenders attempt rip and swim moves. And with his core strength, he’s shown he can quickly gather and stymie power rushes.
Ekiyor has great natural leverage, which he can exploit with his proportional length. This is particularly noticeable when watching his hands work. Ekiyor can fully extend inside his opponent’s torso to generate displacement. Additionally, he can suddenly extend and latch with neutralizing effects. The Alabama G actively targets the torso and shoulders with his length to disable opposing strikes and establish a lever. He keeps his hands tight and inside the torso more often than not, minimizing available surface area to exploit.
Ekiyor’s hands are amped-up and energetic off the snap, and the Alabama G shows bright flashes of hand-fighting in close quarters. His footwork, however, is an equal part of his operational prowess. Ekiyor has good synergy, as he’s able to quickly swipe hands and re-extend while recollecting his base. In pass protection, he has urgent feet and has shown he can both stay in phase and vary his cadence based on spacing. Ekiyor keeps a wide base, leverages that base to match defenders, and can absorb power.
Going further, Ekiyor has an active help mentality in pass protection. He processes blitzes and stunts very well and can quickly pivot focus to delayed rushers. Additionally, Ekiyor has shown he can stack blocks when moving to the second level. He’s a mean blocker who shoots off the line into contact and always gives 100% to the whistle. As a pulling blocker, he hunts out contact and will punish defenders who sacrifice leverage.
Finally, while Ekiyor’s flexibility is a weaker part of his game, the Alabama G is not a liability there. He’s shown he can levy blocks inside gaps, uncork his hips, and drive open lanes in the run game.
Ekiyor’s areas for improvement
While Ekiyor has good linear explosiveness, his lateral mobility is a question mark, especially in pass protection. The Alabama G can be stiff on transitions. He can also be late to recover and make up ground after redirecting, and his hips appear stiff at times when anchored. Ekiyor sometimes struggles to flip his hips and carry defenders outside the pocket. His average flexibility also prevents him from maintaining anchors amidst resistance at times.
Ekiyor also lacks elite raw power and elite neutralizing strength. He doesn’t consistently generate ample displacement, and he needs to use his hands and leg drive more effectively as conduits for power. Moreover, he sometimes struggles to fully absorb power and can be worked backward in his stance. He can also be wrenched off-balance on moving blocks.
Even with natural leverage, Ekiyor must bend his knees more consistently and maintain a stable center of gravity. He sometimes comes off the snap too tall and can be toppled by power. He’ll also occasionally place his hands too wide, allowing defenders to take control of reps. Ekiyor’s hands sometimes lack precision and coordination, and the Alabama G can be over-reliant on two-hand extensions. At times, he can be late to load up and extend as well.
Elsewhere, Ekiyor can better leverage his footwork. He sometimes oversets outside off the snap and allows defenders space inside. He’s also prone to lurches, as he’ll periodically extend before achieving proper positioning.
Current draft projection for Alabama G Emil Ekiyor
Ekiyor scored as a priority Day 3 prospect in my preliminary viewing. He’s just below the Day 2/Day 3 boundary but in the early Day 3 range. He’s the kind of prospect who could move into the mid-to-late Day 2 field with a dominant final season. But a few factors may limit the amount of ground he can cover on a projected ascent.
Let’s start with what Ekiyor has going for him. He’s a reasonably explosive linear athlete with great natural leverage, frame density, and grown-man strength in the trenches. He also flashes great power capacity, which he could continue to unlock as he improves at channeling that power. Not only that, but Ekiyor has great awareness in pass protection and aggressiveness as a run blocker.
Having said all this, there are negative notes for the Alabama G. Ekiyor isn’t as free-flowing laterally. He can be stiff in that phase, and his hip flexibility can be limiting at times. He’s not quantifiably elite in any athletic or physical category, and he also has room to keep refining his footwork and hand usage. In those phases, he has an acceptable floor. But for a prospect who isn’t without his physical limitations, imperfections may impact his overall stock.
Nevertheless, Ekiyor is an above-average overall athlete who has enough upside to be an NFL starter at a position where athletes don’t necessarily have to be elite. He already provides great utility as a road-grading run blocker with modest scheme versatility, and he has the feel of a mid-round pick who could go on to carve out a very respectable career.