Top-10 Prospect, Potential New LT Falls to Ravens in Latest Mock Draft

Ravens Ronnie Stanley

Getty Ravens' All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley is carted off the field after suffering a season-ending injury in November 2020.

The Baltimore Ravens will go into the 2022 NFL Draft in April armed with a whopping 10 draft picks and plenty of needs to address, especially along the offensive line.

With offensive tackles Ronnie Stanley and Ja’Wuan James both coming off major injuries, the Ravens are expected to use one of their early picks on the position, with Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning previously projected as Baltimore’s first-round pick.

But Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus thinks the Ravens will go a different direction, with North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu falling out of the top 10 and to Baltimore with the 14th pick in his latest mock draft.

“Ekwonu is flying up some draft boards with 85.0-plus PFF run-blocking grades in each of his college seasons and above 90 in his last two,” wrote Monson on January 31, calling Ekwonu a “dream fit” in the Ravens’ power run offense.

The Ravens would certainly leap at the opportunity to secure a premier talent like Ekwonu at a huge position of need, but it’s unlikely that he’ll even be available by the time Baltimore is on the clock with the 14th overall pick.

He is widely considered to be in the uppermost tier of the offensive tackle talent in this year’s draft, along with Alabama’s Evan Neal and Mississippi State’s Charles Cross. Some analysts, like Danny Kelly of The Ringer, even consider Ekwonu to be among the draft’s top five prospects. 

“Ekwonu is a three-year starter with elite size, springy athleticism, and schematic flexibility; He brings day one starting potential and has experience at both tackle and guard,” wrote Kelly in The Ringer’s 2022 Draft Guide on February 2, with Ekwonu coming in as the highest-ranked offensive lineman and the third-ranked prospect overall.


Ekwonu Prospect Breakdown

Ekwonu improved every season as a three-year starter on the Wolfpack offensive line, with over 2,000 snaps at left tackle, plus more than 200 at left guard. While his positional versatility will be valued in Baltimore, the Ravens will likely see Ekwonu as a starting offensive tackle to replace Ronnie Stanley on the left side or play opposite him at right tackle.

Ekwonu is a people-mover who could open holes for Lamar Jackson, J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards next season, as he could start right away in the NFL.

The 2021 first-team All-ACC selection is especially impressive in using his feet to drive through defenders in the run game.

Ekwonu uses excellent footwork and surprising speed to quickly reach smaller second-level defenders who he then overpowers with ease.

But he also has extremely active feet in pass protection, which, combined with his powerful arms, can lock down opposing rushers with ease. 

While the Ravens hope Ronnie Stanley can return to his All-Pro form at left tackle – in which case Ekwonu would likely switch sides and learn right tackle – there’s a chance the 2016 first-round pick can’t come all the way back from a brutal ankle injury that sidelined him for the past two seasons. In that case, Ekwonu would project as Baltimore’s franchise left tackle to protect Lamar Jackson’s blind side well into the future.


Ekwonu Unlikely To Fall to 14th Pick

Ekwonu falling to the Ravens  would be a miracle for Baltimore, with most mock drafts projecting him to go in the top 10 picks.

Dane Brugler of The Athletic even mocked Ekwonu to be picked by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the first overall pick in the draft on January 19.  Brugler then predicted that the Ravens would take versatile defensive lineman Travon Walker out of Georgia.

With Calais Campbell considering retirement and Brandon Williams hitting free agency, the Ravens will need some new faces along their defensive line. Walker’s positional versatility to line up on the interior or edge of the defensive line has long been a prized quality of the best Ravens defenders, so he could be a perfect fit in Baltimore’s defense under new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald.

 

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