Ikem Ekwonu – Carolina Panthers OT
It’s hard to put into words just how much Ikem Ekwonu could help the Carolina Panthers if he imposes himself right away. Fortune favored the organization when the premier offensive tackle prospect fell out of the top-five and into their grasp, which is something those in power simply couldn’t pass up given their complications on the blindside since Jordan Gross retired.
Ekwonu is a physical specimen that plays every snap like it’s his last. There is fearless aggression matched by exceptional athleticism in the running game, with some encouraging traits that can be developed in pass protection working alongside offensive line coach James Campen.
There will be some bumps in the road for Ekwonu coming up against some of the league’s most dominant pass rushers over his rookie campaign. But if the North Carolina State product can establish a firm foundation in training camp, the better his chances are of hitting the ground running.
Adding Ekwonu to an offensive line that’s received a much-needed makeover this offseason could be the missing piece of the puzzle. Something that will no doubt help Baker Mayfield and perhaps even keep Christian McCaffrey out of the firing line, too.
It’ll be interesting to see Ekwonu against Brian Burns and others in camp. This should be a steep learning curve before he takes the field against Myles Garrett in Week 1.