Denver Broncos UDFA highlights: Ken Ekanem, Virginia Tech
The Denver Broncos drafted one of the most prolific DL in the ACC in DeMarcus Walker, but UDFA Ken Ekanem of Virginia Tech also made a ton of plays…
One of my favorite things to do every offseason is research the undrafted players the Denver Broncos picked up, and learn more about how these guys can push for a roster spot. For former Virginia Tech defensive end Ken Ekanem, the quickest route to the 53-man roster will be his ability to get to the quarterback and make plays in the offensive backfield…
Ekanem is a 6-foot-3, 257 pound defensive end who will likely transition to the edge rusher/outside linebacker position with the Denver Broncos. His ability to make plays in the backfield is exactly the reason why he’s getting a shot in the NFL, though his numbers didn’t stay as high as they were in 2014 through the remainder of Ekanem’s college career.
His sack numbers dipped from 10.5 in 2014 to 4.5 in 2015, and then got back up to 7.5 in 2016. Over the course of his four years at Virginia Tech, Ekanem played in 50 total games, starting 39.
When Ekanem was able to pin his ears back and just get after the quarterback, he did a great job of using a combination of quickness off the snap and power to make his way into the backfield. He has good initial pop with his hands and shows an ability to sort of force his way into the backfield, where he finishes plays.
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Over the course of his college career, Ekanem had 131 total tackles and 34 tackles for loss. He doesn’t have ideal length (32-inch arms) but the transition to linebacker could help him moving forward.
Despite his lack of ideal length, blockers can’t really ever entirely wash him out of a play. That’s why you see high TFL and sack numbers over a three year period. This is the type of player who gets to the quarterback with power and flat out effort. He’s not an agile edge bender like Von Miller and Shane Ray, but he finds a way to get back there and chase down quarterbacks.
Athletically, there’s nothing about Ekanem that flies off the page. He ran a 4.78 second 40-yard dash and had average measurables otherwise. He did put up 20 bench press reps, proving his upper body strength.
This is the kind of guy that will be extremely fun to watch in the pre-season because he’s going to get after the quarterback and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. He’s not big enough to hold up on the edge as a defensive end, but I think with a year on the practice squad, Ekanem’s natural pass rushing ability, ability to finish plays, and strength could earn him a shot at a roster spot in 2018.