North Carolina State offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu is closing on Alabama's Evan Neal to be the favorite for the #1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
“Ickey” Ekwonu met with the Jacksonville Jaguars at the NFL Scouting Combine last week on the same day the team met the 337-pound Neal.
NFL scouts praise Ekwonu, who nearly went to Harvard over NC State, for his high character, off-the-charts intelligence and punishing blocking style.
Neal remains the betting favorite to go first overall but Ekwonu closed the gap considerably and overtook Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson over the course of the combine in Indianapolis. The 320-pounder ran a 4.93 40-yard dash.
“I wouldn't be shocked if I went #1 overall,” said Ekwonu in a media session at the combine on Thursday in Indianapolis. “I feel like that's something I've put the work in for it. I feel like when that time comes, I wouldn't be shocked by it.”
At BetMGM, Ekwonu opened at +10000 and rose to +120 on Monday. At the outset of the combine last week, Ekwonu was available at +850 at FanDuel.
Neal is the universal favorite and is +100 at FanDuel with Ekwonu +200 and Hutchinson +800.
Neal also leads at DraftKings (-110), where Ekwonu is also +200 and Hutchinson is +750.
Ekwonu is the #1 pick in mock drafts released by The Athletic (Dane Brugler) and ESPN's Mel Kiper.