To say that it is a foregone conclusion that the Atlanta Falcons will add to the defensive line is probably understatement of the year. Whether or not the Falcons eye a penetrating defensive tackle in the first round or versatile edge rusher, the Falcons will make an addition or two to the defensive line in the upcoming NFL draft.
An intriguing mid-round prospect out of the ACC appears to be lurking and could be the ideal pass rusher to join together alongside Vic Beasley Jr., and Takk McKinley to give the Falcons a young and versatile trio to chase quarterbacks. Take a look at my scouting report on Duke Ejiofor out of Wake Forest and why he is a great fit to what the Falcons are looking for.
Duke Ejiofor Scouting Report
Weight: 270 lbs
Games watched: vs. Temple (2016), vs. Florida State (2017), vs. Boston College (2017), vs. Texas A&M (2017)
Equipped with freakish long arms, it does not take much for Ejiofor to be disruptive in the offensive backfield. Ejiofor posted back-to-back seasons of 17 tackles for loss, which shows how consistently irritating he can be.
His best season came in 2016 in which he earned third-team All-ACC honors after tying for fourth in the conference in sacks with 10.5 along with a career-high in tackles with 50. Displays the versatility to rush the passer at the five-technique as well as inside at the three-technique. Ejiofor utilizes his hands very well in his pass rushing arsenal and uses swim moves, slaps, rips, and club moves. Thanks to those lengthy arms, Ejiofor is a very sound and reliable tackler and his short-area quickness can be an issue when rushing against lineman with average or worse footwork. When Ejiofor is required to be agile laterally against ball carriers, he can be seen making a play or two.
Speed probably will not be associated with his game when he’s fully developed. When it comes to getting around the edge against tackles, it will likely be based on technique and not beating his opponent with game-changing speed. Ejiofor has some stiffness in his hips that is hard to ignore at times.
When it comes to his get-off at the snap, it is decent and does not stand out on film. His play strength and leverage must improve, which is something you do not necessarily expect from an edge rusher his frame and attributes. Ejiofor will also have to learn how to sink his hips, which will only add to his overall game.
The Falcons have a very promising combination already in place in Beasley and McKinley but the departure of veteran Adrian Clayborn in free agency opens up a key spot in the pass rushing rotation. That is where a prospect such as Ejiofor comes into play.
He is not the most refined of edge rushers and he will need polish at the next level. He also may never be known for more than just a key rotational guy. But with his frame, length, motor and experience, Ejiofor is as close to perfect of a compliment to Beasley and McKinley as you can get. His toughness and tendency to play to the whistle is something that head coach Dan Quinn admires.
Inserted into the scheme, Ejiofor could be placed at strong-side defensive end on early downs and could slide inside on money downs to get after the quarterback. Presently, Ejiofor has a late 2nd-3rd round grade and on day two of the draft, could be the answer that the Falcons are looking for in a third pass rusher.