IK Enemkpali (full name is Ikemefuna Chinedum Enemkpali) is in his fifth year as a defensive end at Louisiana Tech and his fourth year as a contributing player after taking over as a starter a few games into his freshman year. He has shown to be an asset against the run and the pass for the Bulldogs. After starting his career under Sonny Dykes and winning several awards in Dykes’ last year, Enemkpali is finishing his career under head coach Skip Holtz in his senior year and is going out with his best season.
Enemkpali is undersized at just 6’1”, but just works hard and keeps trying to make plays. He has shown he can be a nice edge rusher as well as having the ability to play the run as he does a good job of playing with good leverage and behind his pads. Enemkpali’s stock is going to be hurt slightly by the fact that he seems like a poor fit in anything but a 4-3 as a defensive end due to his stiff hips but he does have experience playing as a standup end. He projects as a late third day pick and could possibly go undrafted due in large part due to his height, but should be a player that gets his chance to make a team if he can overcome his lack of length, could have a nice career in the NFL as a rotational end and high energy player.
Vitals & Build
Enemkpali is listed at 6’1” 272lbs and built like a bowling ball. He is not tall but he has a thick build and barrel chest. Enemkpali was listed at 250lbs as a junior, so he put on somewhere in the neighborhood of 20lbs for this season. Surprisingly, it does not seem as though Enemkpali lost much if anything from the added weight. He might be slightly less explosive but might gain that back with time and adjusting to the weight. His functional strength and ability to hold up are significantly improved and he is still able to bend well, especially at the ankle. With the added weight, Enemkpali’s displays a good motor and seems to consistently give a ton of effort.
Enemkpali’s hips were not flexible anyway, so he lost nothing in his ability to turn or anything in that department. He is quick and athletic as long as his hips are facing forward and he can attack up the field. In that respect, he is impressive and can catch opponents by surprise but his lateral quickness and ability to open his hips are mediocre at best. It is possible that Enemkpali might want to take off a handful of pounds and find a happy medium with his weight to maximize how well he can explode off the edge, but it might actually be a good weight for him and he just needs to work to replace some of the fat he added with muscle.
Snap Anticipation & First Step
Enemkpali’s snap anticipation tends to be slow by about half a beat. He tends to be the last of the Bulldog defensive linemen to get off of the ball. Considering the success he has had, it means he has actually been working harder than he might otherwise have to if he can get quicker with coming off of the snap.
On the other hand, Enemkpali’s first step is pretty solid and he is aggressive with it and able to attack up the field or at the opponent. It is a little bit better when he goes from a four point stance than he does from a standup end position, but neither is necessarily a problem. The four point stance is more effective for him in general purely because it has him playing so low to the ground, giving him a natural advantage with leverage and making it tough for opponents to block him.
Enemkpali has a nice combination of moves he can use to beat opponents and does a great job of varying them to keep teams off balance. Especially with his added weight and natural leverage, Enemkpali’s bull rush has really become a weapon. He is able to generate momentum quickly and he plays with good pad level, so he hits the opponent with a rising blow and can really jolt opponents, sending them into the backfield and making it so he can locate the football and make a play.
He does a good job of using his hands and staying behind them as he plays. His hands are always moving and he makes it tough for opponents to keep him in front of them. Enemkpali has shown the ability to rip well and slip behind linemen to make an impact.
Although it is not a finished product, Enemkpali has flashed a solid snap spin move that can be effective with work, but tends to require too much space to do it and he can beat one block and find himself cut off from the play. There are times when he does it really well and it can be deadly. If Enemkpali can tighten it up and execute it consistently, albeit in moderation, it can be a nice addition to an already pretty good arsenal.
Enemkpali does a good job against the run because he is stout at the point of attack and anchors well against oncoming rushers. Even when he is standing up straight, he will get low and get behind his pads to absorb a hit and take it extremely well, which makes him effective when it comes to taking on stunts or pulling linemen. He is able to play behind his hands, shed and make a tackle or just reach out and get a hand on a runner and slow them down or just take them to the ground himself.
Probably because he knows himself as an athlete and what his limitations are, he seems to put a big emphasis on the angles he takes when he needs to go out and make a play near the sideline. He does not have to adjust his angle much if at all for the most part which allows him to get there faster and make an impact.
Rushing the Passer
Enemkpali is able to make an impact as a pass rusher and shows impressive closing speed and body control when he is in the backfield. He is able to attack outside or right at his man, but the one area where Enemkpali really does not seem interested in exploiting is going inside unless one of his moves takes him there, which is good, but it means that he is leaving something on the table that he could use. Both against the pass and the run, Enemkpali keeps opponents guessing by attacking at his man or up the field, but they are not concerned about protecting to the inside.
One area where Enemkpali can improve upon is protecting his legs. Despite how relatively low to the ground he plays, he will allow opponents to get into his legs and trip him up, which makes him look less athletic than he is.
The move Enemkpali seems to really prefer is attacking up the field on the outside with a speed rush, dip his shoulder and bend around the edge and flatten to the quarterback. Even at the increased weight, Enemkpali shows impressive ability and really is able to bend well at the ankle and stay in control as he goes for the quarterback. In that situation, his height becomes an advantage and he can show some impressive quickness and closing speed to get hits on the quarterback.
Enemkpali does have experience dropping into coverage but it is a changeup as opposed to something he can be used to do on a regular basis. He gets back decently quickly, but when he cannot operate in a straight line, he really has trouble adjusting and making quick movements in space. Outside of occasionally catching the defense by surprise which he was able to do against N.C. State for an interception, he looks incredibly awkward on his feet. In fact, he promptly fumbled the interception and the Wolfpack recovered the ball.
The best fit for Enemkpali appears to be in a 4-3 system as a defensive end, but someone who could potentially kick inside and rush from a tackle spot. Based on what he has shown to this point, Enemkpali’s likely role in the NFL would start as a rotational end that could come in and rush the passer or potentially play the run. The question teams are going to have to answer is if they like him as a power end or if they like him as a rush end. Long term, his potential might be best served as a power end but he does not have ideal length.
Enemkpali’s game is similar to that of Wallace Gilberry, currently of the Cincinnati Bengals. Like Enemkpali, Gilberry is short and squatty, but has turned himself into a nice rotational pass rusher that can make an impact. Gilberry entered the league as an undrafted free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs and just kept scratching and clawing his way into making a roster. Whether Enemkpali is drafted or not, he needs to adopt that same kind of mentality so he can enjoy the same type of career that Gilberry has had or better.
Enemkpali has demonstrated to be a pretty good all-around defensive lineman for Louisiana Tech, but he does not have ideal length, so there will be questions about his length and his arm length measurements could be important. He will also likely get invited to an All-Star game such as the East-West Shrine Game or the Texas vs. America Game where he could have a nice opportunity to shine against better competition. Nevertheless, Enemkpali just seems to find a way to make an impact and could be a nice rotational defensive end in the NFL with a small chance of becoming a starter.
There is an arrest in Enemkpali’s past where he was alleged to have assaulted a police officer, but nothing really came of it and he was a sophomore at the time, so while it is something to ask about, it is probably not a deal breaker. Enemkpali projects as a late third day prospect that could potentially go undrafted due to questions about his height, but he is someone that should find themselves with an opportunity to shine in training camp and make a team.
Some of the film used in this scouting breakdown was provided by the good folks at draftbreakdown.com