Panthers depth chart focus: How much can OL improve in 2022?

(Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu
(Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu /
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Carolina Panthers
(Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu /

Ikem Ekwonu – Carolina Panthers OT

Much has been made about the Carolina Panthers not having a stable left tackle since All-Pro Jordan Gross decided to call it a day following the 2013 campaign. That is a long time to be without a premium blindside protector and Cam Erving’s lack of production last season meant the organization was unsurprisingly forced to go in a different direction once again.

After ignoring this critical need in free agency, attention turned to the 2022 NFL Draft and the Panthers were in a solid spot to select one of the top-three tackles if everything went in their favor.

Lady lucked smiled on Carolina after five consecutive defensive prospects were taken before they went on the clock at No. 6. Something that allowed them to select the top player on their board in Ikem Ekwonu.

The former North Carolina State standout is a dominant figure that has a close connection to the area. Ekwonu mauls people in run blocking and has more than enough athleticism to suggest that his pass protection can be a real asset with a little more refinement.

This is the tone-setter that the Panthers have been craving. Ekwonu is a Day 1 starter with Pro Bowl or better potential and providing he stays clear of injury, he is a 10-year starter at a position that’s proven to be a severe complication for Carolina.