Ikem Ekwonu – Carolina Panthers OT
Fortune favored the Carolina Panthers when Ikem Ekwonu fell out of the top five and into their laps. A stroke of luck that those in power didn’t waste.
Ekwonu grew up as a Panthers fan and hails from the region. So he is already acutely aware of how much the organization means to many across the Carolinas.
The North Carolina State product is set to be the franchise left tackle many have craved since Jordan Gross hung up his cleats. Ekwonu’s run blocking is already NFL-ready and providing there are some slight adjustments to his pass protection, a huge rookie campaign could be in the offing.
This is a lot of pressure for Ekwonu and there is set to be a real baptism of fire right out of the gate. But his character and tone-setting mentality mean he is more than ready for whatever challenges lie ahead.
Ekwonu was a gift from the football gods. If he can solidify an ongoing problem for the Panthers, it could see the team boast one of the league’s most consistent tackle tandems alongside Taylor Moton.
There will be some growing pains, obviously. But there is a high chance that Ekwonu will be even higher on this list by the time 2023 rolls around.