To keep the 2018 NFL Draft train rolling, lets take a look at another edge rusher. Duke Ejiofor hails from Wake Forest, and was actually in town yesterday potentially for a visit with the Los Angeles Rams:
Wake Forest EDGE Duke Ejiofor is in Thousand Oaks, CA today— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) April 10, 2018
Ejiofor is a 22-year old (turning 23 in two weeks) prospect who projects better as a 4-3 DE as opposed to a 3-4 OLB, though I think his skills are certainly versatile. Ejiofor had a labrum surgery after the college season which ultimately held him from competing at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine both of which he was invited to.
As for the player?
In his four-year career, Ejiofor totaled 23.5 sacks 6.5 of which came in 2017. Ejiofor stands at 6’4” and weighs 275 lbs boasting true defensive end size. He’s not the most nimble or bendy athlete. It just simply isn’t how he plays or wins, but that’s not to say that he isn’t a good athlete. Ejiofor boasts maybe the largest arsenal of moves in the draft (sans North Carolina St. EDGE Bradley Chubb) and very likely has the most active and best hands of any edge rusher in the class.
Lets take a look at the tape.
On this play, Ejiofor actually lines up at DT though he attacks the OT as if he was lined up at DE. Once Ejiofor gets to the LT, he becomes very active in his hands immediately. Performing the slap-swim combo, Ejiofor doesn’t allow the LT to get his hands on his chest plate thus registering a QB pressure.
Ejiofor, unlike Rutgers EDGE Kemoko Turay whom I wrote about yesterday, is a complete player because of his size and advanced hand usage/football IQ. On this play, he isn’t even blocked though he still positions himself in a spot where he can maintain contain if the RB decides to bounce the run (which he ultimately did). Ejiofor is waiting there for him delivering a wrap-up tackle for no gain.
Here’s another run stop for Ejiofor though this one is much more impressive than the last. Ejiofor positions himself well in the B gap between the tackle and guard and knifes through using a swim move becoming skinny through the hole. Tremendous play for a tackle-for-loss.
Once again, the hand games continue for Ejiofor on this rep. As quickly as the RT extends his arms to make contact with Ejiofor is how quickly Ejiofor becomes active with his hands using a swipe. It worked too, the issue was at the top of his arc Ejiofor lost his balance and fell though his effort was evident on this play and he does finish with the sack.
The main questions for Ejiofor seem to be if he is athletic enough and perhaps thus restricted to a 4-3 defense. That’s why I love this rep. Lining up as a DE, Ejiofor is tasked covering the RB in the flat and does a tremendous job. As he stays with the RB, his burst to the ball was evident. His ability to wrap the RB up in space and take him down is a great sign for a transition into a 3-4. Even though he may not have played in a 3-4, his athleticism and burst allow him to be a fit at the next level.
The last of Ejiofor’s pass rushing prowess comes from an inside move, showing his true versatility and unpredictability. As Ejiofor gets a good jump off the snap, the LT has to over-set to account for his speed. Seeing this, Ejiofor literally tosses the tackle out of the way and takes the quickest lane to the QB: the inside. Another QB hit and pressure.
As a prospect, Ejiofor has shown the capability to do it all. The reason he may find a way to the Rams third round pick is simply because of his injury. Not only are teams always weary of an injury, but it kept him from competing all offseason, and that itself might be enough to have teams forget about him early in the draft.
Look for the Rams to continue to add weapons to Defensive Coordinator’s Wade Phillips’ defense.