2022 Eagles Draft Profile: Penn State defensive end Arnold Ebiketie
In one of the deeper edge classes in recent draft memory, the Eagles have an opportunity to add another young pass rusher to their arsenal. While many experts project as many as four or five going in the first round, Arnold Ebiketie could be an absolute steal if he slips to Day Two.
Ebiketie was a three-year letter winner for Albert Einstein High in Kensington, Maryland. The three-sport athlete played linebacker and wide receiver, averaged 9.7 points and 6.5 boards as a power forward and performed in the high jump and sprints. A 3-star recruit via 247 sports, “AK” de-committed from his original school of Towson to play for the Temple Owls.
Many draft analysts point to Ebiketie as being a “late bloomer” and knock him for not playing an entire season until his senior year. For me, that’s a positive aspect because of his consistent improvement and a desire to get better through his work ethic.
The 6-3, 250-pound defensive end appeared in 197 defensive snaps through his first two years at Temple, totaling 16 tackles, two TFLS, and two sacks. He made his first start as a senior for Temple in 2020 and earned All-AAC 2nd team honors.
In 189 snaps that season, Ebiketie led Temple in TFLs (8.5), sacks (4), and forced fumbles (3). With the transfer portal open and Penn State needing edge rushers, AK decided to take his talents to Happy Valley.
Some fans expected Arnold Ebiketie to struggle against larger and higher profile tackles in the Big Ten, but that was not the case. The Temple transfer led the Nittany Lions with a 90.5 PFF pass-rush grade, 52 total pressures (11th in the nation), 18 TFLs, 9.5 sacks, and a 22.6% win rate (11th in the country).
His standout season earned him 1st-Team All-Big Ten Honors at defensive ends with guys like Aidan Hutchinson and George Karlaftis. Mostly wreaking his havoc from the defense’s right side, Ebiketie faced off against many Big Ten opponents’ best linemen in their left tackle. Against the powerhouses of the conference (Michigan and Ohio State) Ebiketie had two of his top defensive graded games of his season.
At the ‘The Shoe’ against the #5 Buckeyes, Arnold Ebiketie led the team in total pressures (5), TFLs (1.5), and finished 2nd with a 78.6 PFF defensive grade. He went against Ohio State’s Nicholas Petit-Frere in that game, who’s 6-5 and 316 pounds. Ebiketie’s most lethal trait is getting under guys’ pads to use his excellent hand placement on an inside finesse move.
In the best game of his college career against the #6 Michigan Wolverines, Arnold Ebiketie led all players with an 80.7 PFF pass-rush grade. David Ojabo finished close behind at 2nd with a 79.5 grade, and Aiden Hutchinson posted a lowly 65.7 in 81 snaps. AK once against used that standup technique and led all defensive players in total hurries (9), hurries (6), and tied for 2nd in TFLs (2) and sacks (2).
Arnold Ebiketie has been rising up some draft boards while remaining a Day Two fixture on most. AK doesn’t have that initial explosive burst at the snap, and his power rush could use some improvement. When offensive linemen predict that speed jab or spin move, Ebiketie can completely take him out of plays.
Still, Ebiketie proved time and time again that when given the opportunity, he’s going to make the most of it. He participated in this year’s Senior Bowl, and while he would probably say he’d wish he’d had a better performance, the quickness and strong hands were on full display.
The Eagles’ defensive line is already loaded with young talent but also mixed with some veterans who can mold a future potent defensive line where players are comfortable between all kinds of positions. With this deep of an edge rusher class in the 2022 Draft, I think that could be a genuine possibility.
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