In his latest mock draft for the 2022 NFL Draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. projects NC State’s Ickey Ekwonu as the top overall pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Jaguars need all the help they can get, especially on the offensive and defensive lines, and it’s long been assumed they would go that route with either a defensive end or an offensive tackle. Given that they used the #1 overall pick in 2021 on QB Trevor Lawrence - and a later first round pick on RB Travis Etienne - it would stand to reason that the team would want to provide some support there. Add in that their new coach is the offensive-focused Doug Pederson, and you can pretty much bet that Jacksonville will prioritize that side of the ball with their top pick this year.
Were Ekwonu to go #1 overall, it would mark the third all-time first overall selection for an NC State player. Mario Williams went #1 overall to the Houston Texans in 2006 and Roman Gabriel was selected #1 overall in the 1962 AFL Draft by Oakland (Gabriel was also the #2 overall pick of the NFL Draft that year by the Rams, which is the team he signed with and played for).
Whether or not Kiper’s projection proves to be correct, Ekwonu will become the 19th player in NC State football history to be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft, and seemingly appears on his way to become the 5th player selected in the top five overall picks.