From now until the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections, and priority undrafted free agents. Today we’ll be profiling Alabama Offensive Guard Emil Ekiyor.
#55 EMIL EKIYOR JR, OFFENSIVE GUARD, ALABAMA (5SR.) 6022, 317 LBS.
Senior Bowl Invite, Combine Invite
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Emil Ekiyor Jr.||6’2 / 317||9 3/8||33 3/8||82 1/8|
|40 Yard Dash||10 Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— High motor shown on snaps always working to pick up defender
— Does nice job turning defenders out with blocks to clear running lanes
— Quick to process and shift to new blocks
— Keeps head on swivel in pass-pro does a nice job identifying where to support if available
— Stout frame good to generate low center of gravity and keep strong base
— 90+ percentile OG wingspan gives Ekiyor great length to operate with; 70+ percentile wingspan for all OL
— Legs work well in engagements to gain momentum and churn out power
— Solid downfield speed to get into the second level and pick up defenders
— Has enough juice to pull in short areas with quality placement
— Has experience starting at center
— Fails to latch onto defender resulting in poor grip strength
— Stiff movement allows him to get beaten by bursty defenders
— Inconsistent blocking strength when working out of frame
— Was rotated out through the season to get younger talent on field
— Recovery athleticism lacks to make up for missteps or whiffs
— Lateral speed is notably worse making him questionable as a pulling blocker when operating too far outside
— 5th year senior prospect from Indianapolis, Indiana.
— 23 years old as of January 22nd
— Started 40 total games in his career with the Crimson Tide; 53 games of experience over his 5 seasons
— Was a part of the 11th-highest-scoring offense in college football in 2022
— Shared offensive line with fellow draft prospect Tyler Steen
— Was a consensus four-star recruit, ranking as high as #51 overall recruit nationally by ESPN
— Played offensive and defensive line in high school, and recorded four sacks in his senior season
— Named to the AP & Coaches All-SEC 1st Team for his play in 2022
We start out in this evaluation with a snap for Alabama against Auburn, where Ekiyor shows nice leverage, nice leg drive, and quality strength to offset his defender and wipe him out from the first few yards of the line of scrimmage. By all accounts, those actions are great signs for Ekiyor. However, him unable to get his hands in position to control the block and keep his assignment from working back into the play and making a stop on the run is a huge issue that must be ironed out in the NFL if Ekiyor wants to be consistently on the field.
Below in the play against Arkansas is a great showcase of both strengths and weaknesses for Ekiyor. He does a nice job helping on the block at the line of scrimmage, then works into the second-level to land a block on the linebacker. However, due to being unable to latch onto the block, the running lane fills up for Jahmyr Gibbs and he is unable to break out into the open field. If he successfully lands the block, this had the chance to be a major gain.
Here against Arkansas is a great play from Ekiyor, he first positions himself to have the outside shoulder of his defender putting himself between his assignment and the football. He then works well laterally while staying attached to his block to be able to keep the defender occupied until the ball passes him. Plays like this where Ekiyor shows quality movement even in contact are reasons many are hopeful for him to succeed in the NFL.
While Ekiyor isn’t an extremely nimble mover, he can pull within the hashes, and he does so in the play below against Texas where he is utilized as the blindside blocker and does a great job not just landing his block but keeping his base and stonewalling the defender from making any dent in the pocket, keeping Young clean and comfortable, setting him up for an easy throw.
Then later in the game against Texas, Ekiyor makes what might be his best play the entire season. He shows nice burst out of his stance to get over and protect his gap, and keeps a controlled strong block even continued to contain the defender when he works out of Ekiyor’s frame while the lineman works in his pull. Due to that hesitation, Ekiyor is a bit late getting to the second level, but shifts off of his first engagement to put a block on the pursuing second-level defender and clears out a clear lane for the big touchdown. I’ll be honest, I can’t tell if he hooked too much to maybe warrant a penalty, but that burst to fire into the defender when he was dealing with his prior block is very impressive, and whatever isn’t called is okay in my book!
With a 6’2 317 pound frame, Ekiyor gets natural leverage created and has an excellent base with a low center of gravity. While most people who are built like that have length issues, Ekiyor has arms that are 33 3/8 inches so that combination of length and leverage plays to his favor. In the play below, you can see a nice portrayal of those traits as he drives his defender out of the play well with excellent lower-body drive to clear out the pocket.
Another play by Ekiyor that stood out in this evaluation was in the play below against Mississippi State where he puts a shoulder into his first block, then stumbles but recovers to land another block on the crashing defender to clear out the cut-back lane for Jahmyr Gibbs to make a nice carry. It wasn’t the cleanest rep, but that ability to recover and create momentum off-balance to go and make a block is a nice trait that Ekiyor flashes through his tape.
Ekiyor had plenty of issues on tape in terms of blocking out of frame and managing his grip strength, but plays like this against Texas show there are moments that if unlocked could make Ekiyor a stud on the inside. On this play, he handles his assignment and then guides him past Bryce Young to let Young work up into the pocket and deliver a strike over the middle of the field.
Ekiyor has his struggles as well though, here against Texas in a run-blocking opportunity, he allows his defender out of his grips and he crashes on the play to put a stop on the run and tackle Jahmyr Gibbs in the backfield for a loss. Being able to get in front and position himself to block off the run was great work, but holding up his block and keeping the defender out of the play was a must-do that Ekiyor failed to execute.
For the final play, we look at Ekiyor in pass protection where he is left on an island on the inside handling a linebacker. While Ekiyor has the size and strength combo on his matchup, he also does an excellent job working his feet to mirror and contain his assignment stayed squared up and keeping the pocket clean for a nice pickup through the air.
In a guard class filled with intriguing options, Ekiyor steps in with an appeal of and resume that will certainly appeal to front offices across the league. While there are parts of his game that will need refinement, the talent and dependability will likely make Ekiyor an easy pick for teams looking to add depth, and there’s still the upside that he could be a great get in the middle or late rounds of this draft.
Ekiyor Jr should have plenty of attention with his extensive experience and SEC pedigree matched up with the length and overall profile he offers teams, I expect he’ll be selected in the earlier rounds of Day 3. My pro comparison is Jon Halapio, who is currently a free agent in the NFL.
Ekiyor is best suited for a power-blocking scheme where he handles gaps and while he can pull and move around a bit, letting him operate largely downfield and in short-area is a better match for his profile. Whether he remains at guard or is utilized at center, Ekiyor should be in consideration for the Steelers on Day 3 should they look to bolster their offensive line later in the draft.
Projection: Early to Mid-Day Three
Depot Draft Grade: 7.3 – Rotational Player (4th Round)
Games Watched: at Texas (2022), at Arkansas (2022), vs Mississippi State (2022), vs Auburn (2022)