5 biggest Carolina Panthers draft and UDFA steals in 2022

(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) Andrew Parchment
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) Andrew Parchment /
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Carolina Panthers
(Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu /

2. player. 87. . OT. Carolina Panthers. IKEM EKWONU

Ikem Ewonu – Carolina Panthers OT

It’s tough to argue that someone taken at No. 6 overall is a steal. But considering where Ikem Ekwonu was projected to go, this was a bargain that the Carolina Panthers could not walk away from.

Many had Ekwonu as a top-five lock thanks to an exceptional college career at North Carolina State. This was matched by an extraordinary display of athleticism during the assessment process, which had many wondering whether he would end up going No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Things went better than the Panthers could ever have hoped. Every pick in the top five ended up being defensive prospects, giving them the choice of all three premier offensive tackles – which represented the best-case scenario with no quarterback worthy of consideration.

It was later revealed that Ekwonu was the No. 1 player on Carolina’s board. Someone that general manager Scott Fitterer said he would take first overall without hesitation if he was running the Jaguars.

Ekwonu will have the weight of the world on his shoulders right out of the gate. But if the lineman manages to cope well, then this is the answer to Carolina’s prayers on the blindside and could leave those who passed on him red-faced.