Every cycle, you have players that you’re higher on than the consensus. This year, that player for me is Texas Tech WR Erik Ezukanma, whose scouting report is still woefully underrated heading into the 2022 NFL Draft. There are always a lot of factors at play when evaluating the wide receiver position, but I’m confident that Ezukanma has the physical tools to be a dynamic weapon at the next level.
Erik Ezukanma NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: Texas Tech
- Current Year: Redshirt Junior
- Height: 6’1 7/8″
- Weight: 209 pounds
- Wingspan: 78 1/4″
- Length: 33 1/2″
- Hand: 9 3/8″
Ezukanma’s Combine/pro day results
- 40-Yard Dash: 4.55
- Bench Press: 10
- Broad Jump: 10′ 6″
- Vertical Jump: 36.5″
- Three-Cone: 7.20
- Short Shuttle: 4.38
Erik Ezukanma Scouting Report
The wide receiver position, in particular, draws in more detail in evaluation. There isn’t just game tape to consider. There’s recruiting prestige, there’s level of competition, there’s production, age-adjusted production, and age. A bevy of cosmetic factors mix in with the tried-and-true traits evaluation. These factors do matter. But at the same time, they sometimes draw eyes away from prospects whose film warrants more attention.
Why is this relevant for Ezukanma? The Texas Tech WR never broke 50 catches or 750 yards in a season. He doesn’t have the elite production profile that so many flock to at the top of the WR board. But on the tape, one could argue Ezukanma has just as much talent. In my opinion, he’s very much a worthy early-round prospect, even if he doesn’t go quite that high.
Ezukanma’s athletic profile
Ezukanma has a stellar size/length/athleticism combination. With his traits, he can truly be a three-level threat at the next level. Ezukanma’s size is what stands out first. At 6’2″, 209 pounds, the Texas Tech WR has great range and density. He also has elite length, with arms that measured 33.5″ at the Combine.
Beyond his size, Ezukanma is an impressive athlete, and by extension, a tremendous run-after-catch threat. The Texas Tech WR has great lateral agility and elusiveness for his size. Furthermore, he owns superb explosiveness both off the line and in open space. Ezukanma has the burst to create and elongate space after the catch. He also has enough deep speed to stack defensive backs.
Going further with Ezukanma’s run-after-catch ability, one has to mention what might be one of his best traits — contact balance. Ezukanma has arguably elite contact balance for a receiver. His legs are always churning, and he can bounce off contact with his dense, well-balanced frame. He can swim through congestion, slip away from arm tackles, and his contact balance combined with his elusiveness makes for a dangerous mix.
Execution beyond the physical traits
Too often, we’ve seen NFL teams enticed by wide receivers with high-end physical traits, only to see those receivers fade as professionals. This often occurs when receivers don’t have enough executional polish. Ezukanma is still a work in progress there, but he displays some exciting flashes.
Operationally, Ezukanma is strongest at the catch point. He has great body control and focus, and he’s authoritative seeking out the football. He actively targets the ball with his hands and rarely resorts to body catching. Furthermore, the Texas Tech WR has the toughness and focus to haul in passes amidst contact. When high-pointing the ball, he has a great sense of timing, and he uses his length exceptionally well. His ball-tracking ability also helps in those instances. Ezukanma naturally tracks and contorts to make plays.
Ezukanma has strong hands at the catch point. Rarely does he succumb to focus drops, a problem that plagues other receivers in the 2022 NFL Draft. This solidity as a catcher is inspiring, and on top of that, Ezukanma shows flashes as a route runner. There are glimpses of exceptional suddenness and hip sink out of breaks. Additionally, Ezukanma has shown he knows how to use his eyes to manipulate leverage. He can also use physicality to shake off defenders and break down sticky coverage down the field.
Among other things, Ezukanma has shown he can line up on the outside, in the slot, or even execute in motion. He can seamlessly transition from the catching phase to the run-after-catch phase, and he attacks each moment with a steely focus.
Areas for improvement
Ezukanma is an impressive NFL Draft prospect, but like his cohorts, he has room for refinement. Most of that refinement capacity can be found in his route running. Ezukanma has a somewhat limited route tree, and he also lacks a diverse release package at the line. He doesn’t always create separation on his own, although he’s shown the physical capacity to do so.
Moving forward, Ezukanma can round the top of his routes while traversing through zones. He can employ faster feet heading into his breaks at times and better engage varying stride lengths. Overall, his footwork could be more precise. Ezukanma doesn’t always run his routes at full speed all the way through. He also doesn’t display consistent twitch or urgency up the seam, and he can press upfield better with his pad level ahead of breaks.
Rounding out Ezukanma’s profile, the Texas Tech WR seems more explosive laterally and horizontally than vertically. His physicality in contested situations could get him into trouble in the NFL. And while he’s physical as a receiver, he isn’t always an overwhelming run blocker.
Ezukanma’s NFL Draft scouting report overview
Ezukanma is a rare receiver with incredibly dynamic potential. He’s 6’2″, 209 pounds, with elite length and contact balance, great explosiveness and elusiveness, great hands, and impressive authoritative traits at the catch point. He’s a big receiver, but he plays even bigger in several phases.
Moreover, while Ezukanma has room to refine his route running, he shows potential there. The Texas Tech WR flashes fast feet, smooth hip sinks, and amped-up lower body movements ahead of his breaks. There are deep comebacks on tape where Ezukanma decelerates quickly, chops his feet, and sinks his hips well for his size. If he can be more consistent there, he could complete his NFL Draft scouting report.
Ezukanma seems like a mid-round pick off of buzz, but I would take him much earlier. He’s arguably a top-five WR for me in this class. In the NFL today, receivers don’t necessarily need to be elite route runners. A larger emphasis is being placed on coaches simply scheming playmakers open and getting them the ball. Ezukanma is electric with the ball in his hands and in the air. That voracity as a playmaker in all three ranges, combined with his elite physical makeup, grants him an astronomical ceiling.
Ezukanma’s Player Profile
Now, Ezukanma is a hulking 6’2″, 209-pound specimen. But before he hit the collegiate stage, the Texas Tech WR was a lanky 186-pound receiver prospect. He had good athletic numbers — among them a 4.62 40-yard dash and a 31.2-inch vertical — but he wasn’t quite at his athletic maximum yet. Some teams noticed.
Still, Ezukanma was a four-star recruit in the 2018 recruiting class. Hailing from Fort Worth, Texas, Ezukanma received scholarship offers from teams like Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Arkansas, TCU, and Wisconsin. But for Ezukanma, the high-octane passing attack at Texas Tech piqued the most interest. He ultimately committed to the Red Raiders and made the five-hour trek to Lubbock.
Ezukanma’s career at Texas Tech
When Ezukanma arrived at Texas Tech, he’d fallen in weight to 180 pounds, and he needed to acclimate to the Big 12. Still growing, Ezukanma received a redshirt from Texas Tech coaches in 2018, honing his craft off the field both physically and mentally. When Ezukanma returned in 2019, he’d grown 30 pounds (180 to 210). And he was ready to dominate.
Ezukanma’s first three games were relatively uneventful, but the Texas Tech WR turned up the heat in his final eight contests. Over 2018’s season-ending eight-game stretch, Ezukanma logged 34 catches for 589 yards and 4 touchdowns. He finished the season with 664 yards and became the first Texas Tech freshman to lead the team in receiving yards since 2009 top-10 pick Michael Crabtree.
2020 was a similarly productive season for Ezukanma. Even in a COVID-shortened 10-game season, with uncertainty at quarterback, Ezukanma remained steady as a dynamic playmaker. In 10 games, the Texas Tech WR logged 46 catches for 748 yards and 6 touchdowns. He earned first-team All-Big 12 honors for his play, earning an early spot on the 2021 Biletnikoff Award watch list.
Ezukanma started out hot in 2021, earning 322 yards and a touchdown on 13 catches through the first two games of the season. He eventually stalled, but he still put up solid closing numbers. Overall, the Texas Tech WR caught 48 passes for 705 yards and 4 scores. He also carried the ball 10 times for 138 yards and 2 additional scores.
Ezukanma’s NFL Draft ascension
Over the course of the 2021 season, Ezukanma averaged over 15 yards per catch. Considering how many of his targets come in the short and intermediate ranges, that’s extremely impressive. He’s a supreme RAC threat close to the line, but with his alpha aura and 33.5″ arms, he can also dominate defenders downfield.
Both physically and analytically, Ezukanma is a top-tier NFL Draft prospect with a scouting report that should garner interest in the early rounds. He’s often viewed as an early Day 3 pick by the consensus, but I can see him sneaking into Day 2. If he reaches his peak potential, he’s absolutely worth it.
Ezukanma has the size, athleticism, contested-catch ability, and run-after-catch prowess to be a versatile threat. And his early breakout age suggests that his talent simply supersedes that of his opponents.
Look for Ezukanma to keep dominating. And if he does, he could turn the 2022 NFL Draft wide receiver hierarchy upside down.
Tony Pauline’s scouting report for Erik Ezukanma
Positives: Large possession receiver with reliable hands. Plays big football, uses his frame to shield away defenders, and takes a pounding yet holds onto the throw. Gets vertical, extends his hands, and snatches the ball out of the air. Adjusts to errant throws and comes away with difficult receptions. Displays solid short-area quickness and works routes.
Negatives: Possesses a limited route tree and really isn’t quick in or out of breaks. Gets upright entering routes. Takes his eyes off the ball, which leads to drops. Lacks deep speed.
Analysis: Ezukanma was a consistent three-year starter for Texas Tech and was the go-to receiver in the offense. He possesses nice size and reliable hands, but he has average speed. Ezukanma has enough ability to line up as a fourth receiver in a timing offense.
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