Why the NY Jets shouldn't draft these 4 top prospects

NY Jets, Ikem Ekwonu
NY Jets, Ikem Ekwonu / Don Juan Moore/GettyImages
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NY Jets, Ikem Ekwonu
NY Jets, Ikem Ekwonu / Don Juan Moore/GettyImages

1. Ikem Ekwonu, OL, NC State: An unpolished offensive tackle prospect with highlight-reel film

All indicators coming from Florham Park suggest that the NY Jets love Ikem Ekwonu. Two years ago, the team's front office fell deeply in love with Mekhi Becton.

Flash forward to today, and there are doubts about whether he will be an opening day starter in 2022, let alone a cornerstone player at left tackle. 

But this isn't all about Becton, kind of, it's really about the type of prospect Eknowu is. To save us all some time, you can also lump in Alabama's Evan Neal in this discussion. Although, the birdies haven't been chirping for him the same way they have for Ekwonu.

The fact is that Ekwonu is still a developing player in pass protection. He improved in 2021, but he has given up 10 sacks over the last two years. Ekwonu is a work in progress as a pass protector.

He carries his hands too low and has issues oversetting. He has technique issues. For someone who is ranked as high as first or second overall by some draft experts, you can't have these issues. 

Ekwonu's run-blocking film is one of the best I've seen in years. 'Ickey' is fun to watch. The former standout wrestler is a dominant force when he gets his hands on defenders.

I have no doubt that he could be a top-10 guard in the NFL as a rookie because of his ability to dominate in close quarters. But on the outside in space, Ekwonu is far from being a polished product.

If the Jets draft Ekwonu at four, he needs to be an instant day-one starter and a perennial All-Pro like Trent Williams. That's the expectation when you draft an offensive lineman that high. And quite frankly, Ekwonwu is not ready to be that type of player on the blindside.

This isn't the ACC. Elite edge rushers like Von Miller are going to take Ekwonu to school at the next level. You don't draft a projected left tackle at pick No. 4 if he's not equipped to be elite immediately. 

Drafting Ekwonu, which the Jets are strongly considering, is an indictment of Mekhi Becton, and a clear sign that the team's brass has very little fate in George Fant repeating what he did in 2021 at left tackle.

It's not that the Jets shouldn't be looking to safeguard themselves at offensive tackle for the future. It's a reasonable direction to take, but Ekwonu better be "that guy" if you are going to bestow him at the highest mountain by drafting him as a top-five player.

You don't draft players with the mentality of, "maybe we can move him to guard later," especially if you are the Jets with serious resources invested at the position with Alijah Vera-Tucker and Pro Bowl guard Laken Tomlinson. 

I personally don't see Ikem Ekwonu as a 'generational' player at left tackle. He looks like a guard trying to learn how to play tackle. Ekwonu, as a left tackle prospect, is not D'Brickashaw Ferguson.