3 winners and 3 losers from the Carolina Panthers 2022 NFL Draft

(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) Scott Fitterer
(Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) Scott Fitterer /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /

Christian McCaffrey – Carolina Panthers RB

The two biggest needs for the Carolina Panthers entering this draft were left tackle and quarterback. When the first five prospects off the board were defensive players, they had the pick of the litter in offensive tackles – a dream scenario, in all honesty.

Carolina made a good decision, taking Ikem Ekwonu. An immensely gifted protector who played nearby at North Carolina State.

Ekwonu was arguably the best tackle in this draft class and the fact that he even slid to No. 6 could end up being a major steal if he performs the way many think he will.

Carolina hasn’t had a franchise left tackle since Jordan Gross retired back in 2014 and Ekwonu certainly looks like the guy to finally fill the void. His strength and ability are extremely fun to watch and he will no doubt be a starter by Week 1.

With his physicality and potential to be an elite blindside protector, that should and will only benefit Panthers star running back Christian McCaffrey and whoever is under center at quarterback this season.

McCaffrey has been injury-riddled the past two years and while that isn’t all due to his offensive line, just having reliability in that group should allow the All-Pro to restrict punishment.

The same goes for whoever is starting at quarterback.

Dating back to Cam Newton, Carolina has struggled to protect its quarterback. Ekwonu blocking the blindside will only assist the signal-caller and could lead to an upturn in production as a result.