Could NY Jets hold the key to the Panthers drafting a stud OT?

(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Joe Douglas
(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Joe Douglas /

Could the New York Jets hold the key to the Carolina Panthers potentially landing a franchise left tackle at No. 6 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft?

There will be many moving parts early in the 2022 NFL Draft before the Carolina Panthers find out for sure which prospects will be there for the taking at No. 6 overall. This is going to be a top-five that could literally go in any direction, with no consensus No. 1 and a ton of options for almost every team to consider before turning in their card.

All the Panthers can do is sit back and see how things unfold. An instant contributor is likely to be around when it’s time for them to go on the clock, but picking the right guy is absolutely critical when one considers this will be their only selection until No. 137 overall without a trade.

With so many questions surrounding the current quarterback class, rumors are growing about the Panthers setting their sights on one of the premier offensive tackles. Charles Cross, Ikem Ekwonu, and Evan Neal are the best trio by a considerable margin and any has the potential to finally fill a gaping void in Carolina’s protection right out of the gate.

Even though it’s the worst-case scenario, the Panthers must prepare for all three being gone.

This would be a body blow and would likely lead to either a quarterback reach, trading down, or even picking up a gifted edge rusher to pair with Brian Burns.

NY Jets could dent the Carolina Panthers’ hopes of taking a left tackle

Perhaps the one team that holds the key to Carolina potentially getting their hands on a premier blindside presence is the New York Jets.

Although it would be a surprise, there is growing speculation that Gang Green would snap up Ikem Ekwonu if available, with the New York Daily News claiming that general manager Joe Douglas is “unlikely to pass” on the North Carolina State product if given the chance.

With the New York Giants also likely to enhance their protection options as they look to provide Daniel Jones with more security, this leaves things largely dependent on the Houston Texans at No. 3 as to whether or not Carolina gets its shot if the Jets do take Ekwonu or someone else.

The Panthers are getting ready for anything. This is more important than ever this year.

But it’s hard to look at this potential scenario and not think it wouldn’t set them back a bit.

Settling for a prospect like Trevor Penning or Bernhard Raimann would not install anything like the same confidence. The likes of Tyler Smith and Abraham Lucas might help, with Jamaree Salyer also coming under consideration despite many projecting him as a guard once he gets to the pros.

This is a fluid situation. And there should be plenty of twists to come before we find out for sure.

Carolina does not possess enough draft capital to move up if things are not going as planned. So their fate lies with the football gods if taking a left tackle ends up becoming the team’s desired option.

Waiting and hoping.

That’s all the Panthers can do, really.

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If they do get lucky, then those in power should not overthink things and turn in their card at the earliest possible opportunity. Not having a successor to Jordan Gross has gone on long enough.