Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
With the 4th pick of the 2022 NFL Draft the New York Jets select offensive tackle Ikem Ekownu (EE kehm eck WAHN ew).
This pick is easy for the Jets. Ickey is a man amongst boys. At 6’4, 310 he has prototypical NFL OT size. Where Ickey really excels is his personality. In a sport that has become softer and softer, Ickey is a nasty SOB transplanted from the 1970’s. He excels at run blocking, but his pass protection has progressively improved over his career. This is a Joe Douglas pick if I’ve ever seen one. The Jets hit a home run with this acquisition.
It really came down to four options for the Jets at pick 4:
- Ikem Ekwonu
- Kayvon Thibodeaux- Pass rusher with elite skill. What he lacks in refinement, he makes up for in his first step.
- Kyle Hamilton- Best overall player in the draft. Almost a lock to be an All Pro Safety from the start.
- Sauce Gardner- I have seen him compared to Antonio Cromartie, so Jets might be interested. #4 overall is probably too high for him.
- WR?- I’m of the opinion Chris Olave is the best WR in the draft, but a big reach at #4
From the beginning, I knew OT or edge were the only real options for the Jets. As strong of a prospect as Kyle Hamilton is, safety is just not the premier position it used to be. Add to that the NY Jets feeling snakebit with the Jamal Adams selection at #6 in 2017 means Hamilton is a no go. I think edge rusher is the biggest position of need for the Jets. I went back and forth between Ickey and KT. There are some character red flags with KT. Rumors are he interviewed “poor.” His production also did not match his skill set. There were too many times on film I saw what I would call a lack of effort. Also Carl Lawson’s return from injury and the depth of this draft class means the Jets can wait to add pieces on the edge.
So it came down to picking the best OT available. I immediately eliminated Charles Cross from Mississippi St. He lacks the versatility needed for the Jets offense. I love Evan Neal. He is in my opinion the most polished tackle prospect in the last 10 years. His technique is impeccable with athleticism and size to match. For me it came down to culture fit. The Jets are really building something. I feel like Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas are a great pair to turn that organization around. Ikem Ekwonu exemplifies the personality that Saleh is looking for. When you compare that to Mekhi Becton’s rumored work ethic, I think this is a no brainer. I really fell in love with Ickey when watching his film. All of the qualities that he exemplifies (tenacity, motor, nastiness), Thibodeaux reportedly lacks. I feel like these qualities give him the leg up with a front office like the Jets.
Problem with the pick
The Jets currently have George Fant and Mekhi Becton at tackle. Both of these guys have proven they can be starting LTs in the NFL. On top of that, the Jets OL ranked 11th by PFF WITHOUT Becton. The Jets boast a strong, young OL, so is drafting another tackle overkill? No. IF (and that’s a big IF) Becton and Fant are both fully healthy, Ickey has the versatility to move inside to guard. But with that said, my Jets sources question Mekhi Becton’s work ethic and ability to return from a season ending injury. Ickey is the polar opposite of Becton’s character concerns. By drafting Ekwonu, the Jets are building one of the best, young OL in the NFL to protect and give opportunities to a young QB. And potentially have Becton as a trade piece.
As said before, Ickey is NASTY. Here is a snapshot of him holding his block WHILE BLOWING CHUNKS…
Ikem Ekwonu holding his block while puking. O-Linemen are a different breed man https://t.co/MESvOGcRZJ— Andrew Schnittker (@aschnitt53) September 3, 2021
This guy plays the game the way it is supposed to be played. Ickey plays ANGRY. What he lacks in technical skills, he makes up for with tenacity. My favorite clips are of him getting to the second level and absolutely demolishing Linebackers.
By far the most dominant run blocker in college football last year. He is a mauler. He is a finisher.
His 93.8 run blocking grade was tops in college football. His 18 finishing blocks were 7 more than the next best lineman. This guy will make millions advertising for IHOP with the amount of pancakes he produces.
The New York Jets have the potential to have a sneaky good run offense. Michael Carter is one of the most exciting young backs in the league. Robert Saleh brought with him the Shanahan run first system and Ickey is a perfect fit.
This is where Ikem has his drawbacks. The characteristic that is a strength for him in run blocking is his detriment in pass pro. Ikem tends to be over aggressive and can sometimes over lean against skilled rushers. He really struggled against Florida State’s Jermaine Johnson, one of my favorite players in the draft.
What the scouts say
Daniel Jeremiah NFL.com- #2 overall, #1 Tackle
The Draft Network- #3 overall, #1 Tackle
ESPN- #2 overall, #1 Tackle (93 grade)
CBS Sports- #10 overall, #3 Tackle
Sporting News- #3 overall, #1 Tackle
PFF- #6 overall, #2 Tackle
I love football. Watching Ickey makes me love it more. It’s hard to mess up a top 5 pick. Is Ikem the BPA? Maybe. Does he play a position of need? Maybe. In spite of those two answers the Jets just got better with this pick. It’s important to build in the trenches. With this pick, and after signing Laken Tomlinson the Jets now possess an elite young OL that will be pushing opposing defenses around for years to come. The Jets have a rough go of it in the AFC East, but they are moving in the right direction under the leadership of Douglas and Saleh.
Do you approve of this pick?
This poll is closed
2022 BGN Mock Draft Order
1) Jaguars (HellBentOnHurts): DE Aidan Hutchinson
2) Lions (Friendly Neighborhood Philly Fan): DE Travon Walker
3) Texans (herbalonius): OT Evan Neal
4) Jets (RideHighTide): OT Ikem Ekwonu
5) Giants (Brendanekstrom)
6) Panthers (Philliesandthebees)
7) Giants (Dr.MidnightGreen)
8) Falcons (Philly21)
9) Seahawks (chewy wellington)
10) Jets (tfrank9811)
11) Commanders (Negadelphia Norm)
12) Vikings (Kephas)
13) Texans (thebartender01)
14) Ravens (ablesser88)
15) Eagles (Fly Like An Eagle)
16) Saints (20Safety_Hazard)
17) Chargers (LBCeaglesFan!)
18) Eagles (Phoenix X Minimus)
19) Saints (Georgia_eagle)
20) Steelers (EagleDomiNation)
21) Patriots (Domonate)
22) Packers (Leo Bedio)
23) Cardinals (big DUB)
24) Cowboys (joey2arms)
25) Bills (ItownBallers22)
26) Titans (BrianMcE03)
27) Buccaneers (4133Dave)
28) Packers (The Player Formerly Known as Mousecop)
29) Chiefs (GreenGrampa)
30) Chiefs (Legend of Nick Foles)
31) Bengals (Thedeuce9)
32) Lions (Dtechman44)
Now it’s time for you to vote for who YOU think should be selected next in the 2022 BGN Community Consensus Mock Draft.
Who should the Jets draft at No. 4 overall?
This poll is closed
OT Ikem Ekwonu
OT Charles Cross
CB Ahmad Gardner
S Kyle Hamilton
DE Travon Walker
DE Jermaine Johnson
WR Garrett Wilson
WR Chris Olave
WR Drake London
1) Jaguars: DE Aidan Hutchinson
2) Lions: DE Kayvon Thibodeaux
3) Texans: OT Evan Neal