Alabama may not have an offensive lineman that rises nearly as high as Evan Neal in 2022. But in Alabama G Emil Ekior, the Crimson Tide has another The NFL Draft a scouting report worth checking out. What upside does Ekior offer blocking the interior, and is a starting role in the NFL in his future?
NFL Draft Profile of Emil Ecchior
Ekior is just the latest in Alabama’s dominant talent deck on the offensive line. The Crimson Tide have produced high-end OL prospects for over a decade under Nick Saban. Ecchior has a good chance to headline the 2023 NFL Draft class.
Ekior began his collegiate career with visible NFL aspirations. The Alabama G came out of high school as a four-star recruit and was ranked among the top 75 players in the country. Running a 5.18 40-yard dash at over 300 pounds, he excited teams with his potential. From Indianapolis, Ekior received 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 few years for Ecchior to start his career with the Crimson Tide. But fast-forward to today, and Ekiyoor is wrapping up his second straight season as the starting right back. He started 28 straight contests at the position, crushing SEC competition left and right. All of this has led to now, as Ekior enters his fifth year as a high-profile prospect in the NFL draft, and all eyes are on him.
- Position: Guard
- school: Alabama
- Current year: A redshirt senior
- Height/weight: 6’2″, 320 lbs
Emil Ekiyor’s Intelligence Report
At 6’2″ and 320 pounds, Ekior is undersized for a lineman, but he has an incredibly strong, tight frame with well-proportioned length. While he isn’t an elite athlete, he has good short-range explosiveness. It quickly covers the ground. This is obvious in many situations, especially when he has to wander to the left as a train. He showed that he can get outside the 1-technique quickly and hook it.
With his line burst, Ekior can move into defenders and create open gaps. He also has enough mobility to get into space and track down linebackers, freeing up open lanes. Alabama G shows good initial lateral burst when entering reps as a train, and he has decent range as a blocker. What’s more, Ekiyor has shown that he can redirect momentum and guard rushers with his wide frame.
In addition to being a serviceable sports floor, Ekiyor has great power with its frame density and length. The Alabama G can quickly load up and beat defenders with full spin. Likewise, his hands are heavy and rebound well with every punch. Ekior is able to draw power from his strong base and use it to shock opponents on contact.
Ekior is powerful, but his strength is an even more impressive part of his game. The Alabama G has the grip strength to regain position and leverage after an initial loss of pitch. Not only that, he can also latch on to the torso and maintain his grip even when defenders try to squeal and swim. And with his core strength, he has shown that he can quickly gather himself and stop power surges.
Ekior has great natural leverage, which he can use with proportional length. This is especially noticeable when watching the work of his hands. Ekior can fully extend inside the opponent’s torso to create displacement. In addition, it can suddenly lengthen and lock with neutralizing effects. The Alabama G actively targets the torso and shoulders with his length to shut down opponents’ shots and establish leverage. Most of the time, he holds his arms tightly inside his torso, minimizing the available surface area.
Ecchior’s hands are beefed up and energetic after a click, and Alabama G shows bright flashes of melee hand-to-hand combat. His footwork, however, is an equal part of his operational prowess. Ekiyor has good synergy as he is able to quickly swing his arms and extend again while remembering his base. He has quick feet in pass protection and has shown he can stay in phase and change cadence based on spacing. Ekiyor maintains a wide base, uses that base to match defenders, and can absorb power.
Moving forward, Ekiyor has active help in pass protection. He handles blitzes and tricks very well and can quickly focus on delayed rushers. Additionally, Ekiyor has shown that he can stack blocks when transitioning to the second level. He is a vicious blocker who hits from the line into contact and always gives 100% at the whistle. As a pull blocker, he tracks contact and will punish defenders who sacrifice leverage.
Finally, while Ekiyor’s flexibility is a weaker part of his game, the Alabama G is no problem. He has shown that he can set blocks inside the gaps, uncork his hips and drive in open lanes in the running game.
Ekiyor areas for improvement
While Ekior has good linear explosiveness, his lateral mobility is a question mark, especially in pass protection. Alabama G can be tough in transition. He can also be slow to recover and catch up after redirecting, and his hips look stiff at times when pinned. Ekior sometimes struggles to rotate his hips and take defenders outside the pocket. His average flexibility also prevents him from holding anchors among the opposition at times.
Ekier also lacks elite raw power and elite neutralizing power. He doesn’t consistently generate enough movement and needs to use his arm and leg movement more effectively as conduits for energy. Moreover, at times it is difficult for him to fully seize power, and his position may be pushed back. It can also be thrown off balance on moving blocks.
Even with natural leverage, Ekior needs to bend his knees more consistently and maintain a stable center of gravity. Sometimes it is too high and can be brought down by force. He also occasionally spreads his hands too wide, allowing defenders to control the reps. Ekiyor’s hands lack precision and coordination at times, and the Alabama G can rely too much on the two-handed extension. Sometimes it can be late to load and extend as well.
Elsewhere, Ekiyor can make better use of his footwork. Sometimes he pushes outside off the snap and gives defenders space inside. It is also prone to tilting as it periodically stretches out before settling into the proper position.
Current draft projection for Alabama G Emil Ecchior
In my preview, Ekiyor was listed as a Day 3 priority prospect. It is slightly below the 2nd day and 3rd day boundary, but at the beginning of the 3rd day. This is the kind of prospect who could move into the mid-to-late Day 2 with a dominant final season. But several factors may limit the amount of ground it can cover during its intended climb.
Let’s start with what Ekior does. He’s a pretty explosive lineman with great natural leverage, frame density and full-grown strength in the trenches. He also shows great potential for energy, which he can continue to unlock by refining the directions of that power. Not only that, but Ekiyor has great awareness in pass protection and aggressiveness as a run blocker.
Having said all that, there are negatives to Alabama G. Ekiyor isn’t as loose on the sides. In this phase, he can be stiff and his hip flexibility can be limited at times. He’s not quantitatively elite in any athletic or physical category, and he also has room to improve his footwork and handwork. At these stages, he has an acceptable gender. But for a potential customer who is not without physical limitations, imperfections can affect their overall inventory.
Still, Ekior is an above-average athlete who has enough upside to be an NFL starter at a position where athletes aren’t necessarily elite. He already provides excellent utility as a road blocker with modest scheme versatility, and he has the feel of a mid-round pick that could have a very respectable career.