4 players who could transform the Carolina Panthers in 2022

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

87. . OT. Carolina Panthers. IKEM EKWONU. 3. player

Ikem Ekwonu – Carolina Panthers OT

Even though the Carolina Panthers clearly loved Ikem Ekwonu – the top prospect on their draft board – influential figures within the organization did not hold out much hope that the premier left tackle would be available for them at No. 6 overall.

Thankfully, they were wrong.

After every team in the top five went with defensive players from the college ranks, Ekwonu was there for the taking. And the Panthers did not think twice about taking advantage of some good fortune.

Ekwonu grew up a Panthers fan and is renowned in the region having played his college football at North Carolina State. He is nothing short of dominant against the run and providing there are some slight tweaks to his pass protection technique under the guidance of offensive line coach James Campen, this is a 10-year starter that can finally solve a complex riddle that’s been prevalent since Jordan Gross retired almost a decade ago.

It will be a baptism of fire for Ekwonu, who is set to go up against Myles Garrett in Week 1 and many other stud edge rushers throughout the campaign. There are sure to be some hiccups along the way, but it would be a major disappointment if the blindside presence didn’t make a positive impression overall.

Carolina’s fanbase has been craving a left tackle with immense capabilities for some time. And Ekwonu might just be the guy at long last.