Ikem Ekwonu immediately imposes himself on the Carolina Panthers
There was a real sense of excitement to see Ikem Ekwonu take the practice field after the Carolina Panthers selected the offensive tackle at No. 6 overall. This has the potential to fill a significant need providing the player makes a smooth adjustment and gives the team a long-term option at the left tackle position – something that’s been missed terribly since the days of Jordan Gross.
Ekwonu’s heart, energy, and focus were on full display during rookie minicamp according to those in attendance. The North Carolina State product was watched extremely closely by offensive line coach James Campen throughout, who was keen to put a lot on his plate to see how he coped.
Simply put, Ekwonu passed this test with flying colors.
But what comes next will be even more important.
The Panthers did not draft Ekwonu to be a development project or an interior offensive lineman. They took the best player on their board to seal the blindside right out of the gate.
Ekwonu will have his hands full early in the season against some formidable pass-rushers such as Myles Garrett and Nick Bosa. So it’s absolutely essential that he progresses as much as possible over the preparation period.
As far as the rookie minicamp goes, it was mission accomplished.