Vikings Draft Profile: The Most Versatile O-Lineman in the 2022 Draft
Going into the 2021 season, many viewed Ikem Ekwonu as a guard that had borderline first round talent. Now just about two months before the 2022 NFL Draft, Ekwonu is widely viewed as a top-five pick, and his stock is only going up. It’s a remarkable rise for someone that had already started for two years and played consistent football. Here’s a breakdown of what the NC State offensive lineman could bring to the Vikings draft class.
As the title suggests, I believe Ikem Ekwonu’s biggest strength is his versatility. At the left tackle position, many like to focus on the pass blocking ability. but Ekwonu brings a terrific zone run blocking ability to the table. Not only can he be effective in multiple schemes, but he also has experience at multiple positions. He’s become known for his left tackle skills after the All-American season he put together at the position in 2021, but he also has over 200 snaps at the left guard position, giving him the potential to be the Alijah Vera-Tucker of this draft class.
In terms of strength and technique, Ekwonu checks off just about every box. He moves well laterally to frame pass rushers, and he creates terrific leverage with both his hips and terrific hand power. Using his long arms and massive hands, he regularly is able to deliver devastating blows to throw his opponents completely off track.
Despite all the positives, there could be a world where he gets stuck at a guard position because of some needs for improvement in pass protection. 2021 brought some tremendous development over 2019 and 2020 where he was just a bully with some raw technique, but there were games down the stretch of 2021 where he reverted back to some of his old struggles against pass rushers. Particularly, when in pass protection he overly commits to defending the outside, and defenders beat him on the interior. It’s something that can be fixed, but Ekwonu will need to get better about that during this offseason.
Ikem Ekwonu’s Fit on the 2022 Vikings
The Vikings likely need to get their hands on a top-five pick in order to acquire Ekwonu in this draft. There are a couple ways they could potentially do that, including a Danielle Hunter trade. However, the draft is an unpredictable beast. We all remember Penei Sewell falling all the way to No. 7 last year, and this year there are 2-3 offensive linemen that could be considered the top of the class. It could end up being Ekwonu that falls on April 28th, and if so, should the Vikings pick him up?
Obviously, Minnesota has very little need for an offensive tackle. However, Ekwonu may be just as suited to play guard in the Vikings offense given his run blocking chops. This fit really depends on Minnesota’s faith in Wyatt Davis’ future, but it doesn’t seem worth using the top Vikings draft pick on him when so many other needs exist, especially on the other side of the ball.