Duke Ejiofor Will Surprise in 2018

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via Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports

Duke Ejiofor was drafted with the third pick in the sixth round in the NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. A defensive end out of Wake Forest, Ejiofor was a projected third or fourth round pick and nonetheless fell down draft boards until Texans snagged him at the 177th overall pick.

Duke Ejiofor is descended from Nigerian royalty, hence why is his first name is Duke, as his parents emigrated from the African nation and stayed in Houston after attending college at Texas Southern. But being a Houston native is just one of the many reasons why Texans general manger Brian Gaine made the decision to draft him.

With the Demon Deacons, Ejiofor racked up an impressive 17.5 sacks, 93 tackles, and two forced fumbles over his junior and senior seasons. These impressive totals led to him garnering third-team All-ACC honors his junior year. And after finishing his college career in 2017, many NFL scouts had put Ejiofor high on their draft boards.

Defense & Fumbles Table
Tackles Def Int Fumbles
Year School Conf Class Pos G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds TD FF
2014 Wake Forest ACC FR DE 8 10 2 12 2.0 2.0 0 0 0 1 0 0
2015 Wake Forest ACC SO DL 6 13 15 28 7.5 4.5 0 0 0 0 0 0
*2016 Wake Forest ACC JR DL 13 30 20 50 17.0 10.5 1 1 1.0 0 4 2 2
*2017 Wake Forest ACC SR DL 11 27 16 43 17.0 7.0 0 0 0 1 0 2
Career Wake Forest 80 53 133 43.5 24.0 1 1 1.0 0 6 2 4

Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table

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The reasons Ejiofor was so successful in college were because of his closing speed, spin moves, and deadly hand work. The typical process he would go through is possibly use a stutter step, initiate contact with his violent and efficient hand work where he will slap down the lineman’s hands, which was followed by either a spin move or directly moving the lineman out of the way while he rushes at the quarterback. This process is what every rusher goes through, but Ejiofor has so many different moves (almost all of which are efficient) that it separates him from the rest of the pack.

This deadly hand work makes him particularly dangerous when you consider his 34 7/8 inch arms, which allows him to engage lineman first. He is also very strong: bench pressing 470 pounds, squatting 550 pounds, and power cleaning 342 pounds. And all of these measurables are particularly exceptional when you consider that his 6’3″, 264 pound frame is still continuing to grow.

But it isn’t just his large frame and efficient moves that make Ejiofor success, as he studiously examines game tape.”I spend a lot of time in the film room watching my opponent and studying how they set and how they react to different types of speed rushes or bull rushes,” Ejiofor said in a phone interview with ESPN. “So I’m and basically just seeing what I’m going to do in games and putting that into work in games.”

Although he does lack speed, oftentimes lacks hip movements and can’t change direction, and has suffered multiple injuries in college, the upside for Ejiofor is tremendous. His arsenal of moves, growing frame, and outstanding preparation point to a player who could end up being a major contributor to a defensive line that already has legendary talents like J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney.

 

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