5 emerging alphas on the Carolina Panthers in 2022

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Jaycee Horn
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Jaycee Horn /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu /

Ikem Ekwonu – Carolina Panthers OT

Don’t let the beaming smile and fun-loving demeanor.

Ikem Ekwonu is a fierce competitor who plays the game with an infectious enthusiasm that makes everyone around him better.

The Carolina Panthers got lucky during the 2022 NFL Draft when the top five filled with defensive prospects. Something that allowed those in power to select the best player on their board in Ekwonu.

This was a hugely popular move for a number of reasons. Most notably, it provides the Panthers with the franchise left tackle they’ve been craving since the great Jordan Gross called it a day.

Ekwonu has the weight of the world on his shoulders. But the North Carolina State product has more than enough talent to make his presence felt right out of the gate.

Of course, there will be some growing pains. Ekwonu might also get his welcome to the NFL moment in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns when he lines up opposite defensive end Myles Garrett.

The Panthers did not draft Ekwonu at No. 6 overall just to be “a guy”. This is a player they expect to set the tone and emerge as a true leader on and off the field providing there are no complications on the health front.

Ekwonu is an alpha in every sense of the word. Whether he can show this immediately is another matter.