Last weekend David and I hopped in the
creeper van CheFBOlet and took advantage of Michigan playing in Indiana. We made our way to Indianapolis to check out Cathedral’s Emil Ekiyor, the highest-rated prospect in Michgan’s 2018 class (per the 247 composite). David thought he’d be getting Ekiyor film during this year’s Prep Kickoff Classic in Detroit, but an injured left ankle kept Ekiyor on the sidelines for the first game of the year. He’s now back in the lineup, but having been only a month since the game in Detroit the ankle is unsurprisingly still heavily taped.
Emil Ekiyor Every-Snap Film
Ekiyor is #72 and lined up at center.
[Hit THE JUMP for the Ekiyor scouting report]
There’s no Braden-esque photo, but I’d be surprised if it took you more than three or four plays to notice how much Ekiyor looks like a DI interior lineman right now. He uses his size to his advantage, with the key element of his success leveraging his size into movement being… well, leverage. Ekiyor’s bend is really impressive; he’s the best prospect I’ve seen this season at consistently keeping his pads low. He bends particularly well at the hips and fires into opponents low, which allows him to use his heft to drive defensive linemen back with consistency.
It’s worth noting that he’s moving those linemen from the center position, so he’s doing a lot of angle blocking. His footwork and hand placement were consistently great, as he was able to get one hand into an opponent’s chest plate and the other into his armpit. There are numerous examples of Ekiyor establishing this hand position and using it to steer a 2-tech, with the goal-line run at 1:14 being one of the clearer—and more emphatic—examples. As far as footwork is concerned, Ekiyor keeps a good base and very much adheres to the old scouting adage that an interior lineman must constantly move his feet. His first two steps and low pad level always seem to put him in the right position to extend his arms and finish his block.
The ankle injury made things that require extra movement difficult to evaluate. Watching live I thought Ekiyor was slow getting to the second level and would be limited in college by this, but after watching his film it’s clear that he’s hobbling. You can see him try to block the second level at 00:22 and then two plays in a row starting at 2:15. The pattern to these is that he clearly has identified who his target is, but he’s physically unable to get there fast enough to block said target. I did read a camp scouting report that said he was good in space, FWIW.
Ekiyor has the size, technique, and strength you want in an interior lineman. He uses his hands well and keeps his feet moving, and his leverage is excellent thanks to good hip and knee bend. He shows intelligence in his targeting at the second level even if his ankle hobbled him. Despite the ankle, he displayed short-area quickness in his ability to angle block. There weren’t many pass-pro snaps to evaluate, but Ekiyor shuffled his feet and attempted to mirror the player across from him. His real strength is run blocking, where he’s able to not only win blocks at the point of contact but steer opposing linemen where he wants them.
Some weight redistribution will be needed when Ekiyor arrives at Michigan, but that’s the case for virtually all interior linemen; just look at Mike Onwenu’s studio shots from year one to year two. I think he has a future at center; his shotgun snaps were crisp and he didn’t seem to have an issue snapping and taking the right steps to get into his block, and the fit is better if mobility is more of an issue than the ankle injury. The depth chart is also a little less stacked in the middle; he could be Ruiz’s backup next season.