Grading Panthers position groups on offense after 2022 NFL Draft

(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
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Carolina Panthers
(Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu /

Carolina Panthers OL

We all know how bad the offensive line was last year and speaking on that particular topic again is really pointless at this juncture, so let’s talk about the positives.

The Carolina Panthers seemed to have learned from their mistakes of the previous offseason and actually went after some top-flight free agents to replace the largely terrible decisions from 2021.

Gone is John Miller, replaced by Super Bowl champion Austin Corbett in what is an instant upgrade at the right guard position. This should also take a massive load off Taylor Moton.

Alongside them, Bradley Bozeman was brought in to solidify the center spot in what could end up being a shrewd bit of business if the young lineman continues his rise toward being one of the best interior linemen in the league.

That duo combined for fewer sacks allowed, and fewer penalties than Miller did by himself in 2021.

The questionable signing of Cam Erving was also rectified with a shocking fall of first-round pick Ikem Ekwonu that no one saw coming, even the Panthers. He was the best line prospect in the draft and a surefire Day 1 starter that has the potential to secure the blindside for years to come.

A true menace in run blocking and a solid performer in pass protection, Ekwonu has all the skills to make it in the NFL and it has to be something that makes Sam Darnold smile after how many times he was hit last season.

The only real question mark is the left guard spot. Pat Elflein could start there, but second-year player Brady Christensen will very likely give him a run for his money after a very solid end to the season that left many questioning why the BYU product wasn’t played sooner.

The Panthers also selected an intriguing prospect in the ever-reliable Cade Mays, who only allowed one sack last season and could really surprise some people in the run-up to the upcoming campaign. There is a lot to like about the former Tennessee standout’s chances of securing at least a backup role and possibly a starting role with injuries or if struggles rear their ugly head once again.

Position Grade: B+

This revamped offensive line has the look of being very solid and much improved from a season ago. If so, it could be the launching pad for an offense that surprises the league.