With the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine wrapping up in Indianapolis, there was plenty of buzz over the offensive linemen and defensive linemen workouts the past two days. On Friday evening, the offensive linemen worked out, while the linebackers and defensive linemen hit the field Saturday night. From scouts to the media, there was plenty of discussion over the depth and athleticism of these two positions.
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Unfortunately for the numbers nerds, Alabama’s Evan Neal chose not to work out on the field at the combine. Neal will do all his drills at his pro day on March 30, but no scouts or analysts believed that it would actually hurt his impressive stock. For the rest of the field, there were a few offensive linemen that performed well enough to raise their stock significantly, and that included Ikem Ekwonu from North Carolina State.
Ikem Ekwonu runs a 4.97 40-yard dash!
That’s a 6-foot-4, 310-pound man running a sub-5 40. 😅 pic.twitter.com/Bz1JNLTVxL
— Cory Smith (@RCorySmith) March 4, 2022
Ekwonu came into the combine as one of the top offensive linemen, but his agility and athleticism led one NFL scout to believe he could rocket into a top draft position. Due to the extreme parody of the top prospects, and the lack of a true number one quarterback, Ekwonu could end up going first to the Jacksonville Jaguars or third to the Houston Texans.
Interior Offensive Linemen
While watching the on-field workouts with NFL Scouts, players that created quite the buzz with their 40-yard dash splits included Abe Lucas from Washington State University, Zion Johnson from Boston College, and Kenyon Green from Texas A&M. Most scouts already had these three players near the top of their draft boards, but the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers both had front row seats to these workouts and produced plenty of chatter surrounding those three prospects.
The 2022 NFL Draft is widely regarded among media members as the deepest draft class for pass rushers in recent history. This sentiment is backed up by NFL scouts, former coaches, and current players. If you want a pass rusher, go get yourself one, two, or even three. Obviously, the position is highlighted by top five picks, Aidan Hutchinson and Kayvon Thibodeaux. Both impressed on the field and off the field, confirming for teams in the top five that they need to take a hard look at the two prospects.
Outside the top tier, there is plenty of efficient pass-rushing talent in this draft that NFL teams are drooling over. Purdue’s George Karlaftis is regarded by a former NFL coach as a guy that needs to be picked top five in the draft, and Michigan’s David Ojabo flew up draft boards after impressing in interviews with over 15 teams this week.
Under the Radar Star?
If you want an under-the-radar pass rusher look at Kentucky’s Joshua Paschall. Ranked one of the top pass rushers in all of college football last year, Paschall impressed in interviews in Indianapolis and has a very good sense of his own game.
— MJ Hurley (@mjhurleytdt) March 4, 2022
There was a general consensus among NFL talent evaluators this week. It does not matter if you think you have enough offensive linemen or edge rushers, grab one this year. If you want to hit on a pick in one of the first two rounds this year, select from one of the most athletic pools we have seen at these two positions in years. Do that, and you guarantee yourself just a little bit more job security.
Follow MJ Hurley on Twitter @Mjhurleysports
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