How much will Christian McCaffrey benefit from revamped OL in 2022?
By Preston Seyl
How will Christian McCaffrey benefit from some significant investment in the Carolina Panthers’ offensive line during the 2022 season?
For the Carolina Panthers‘ offense to hit on all cylinders this season, Christian McCaffrey needs to be on the field consistently. The running back brings many elements, gaining yards between the tackles or exploding off the edge, which makes him a significant weapon for the team to call upon when healthy.
McCaffrey also boasts exceptional flexibility as the league’s best dual-threat player at the position. His route-running out of the backfield is outstanding and this is sure to provide Baker Mayfield with a supreme security blanket when things aren’t developing as expected downfield.
The revamped offensive line should help keep McCaffrey healthy when he’s running north and south between the tackles. The addition of Super Bowl winner Austin Corbett at the right guard position should particularly help given the distinct lack of consistency from John Miller last time around.
Carolina Panthers made improvements around Christian McCaffrey this offseason
Brady Christensen will be playing left guard going into his second season in Carolina. Offensive line coach James Campen and the rest of the staff have seen major improvement throughout the offseason from the BYU product, who they believe to be a potential long-term answer on the interior moving forward.
Scott Fitterer also went out to get Bradley Bozeman from the Baltimore Ravens on a team-friendly deal, who is set to be a much-needed upgrade over Matt Paradis and Pat Elflein once he returns to full fitness. The Alabama product secured a 73.6 grade from Pro Football Focus in 2021 and is a very good addition for both pass and run blocking from the center spot.
The crown jewel in Carolina’s recruitment crown this offseason in this area of the field was Ikem Ekwonu. The No. 6 overall selection has been named the starting left tackle and could be the answer to the team’s prayers on the blindside if everything goes as expected regarding his development.
Ekwonu is a phenomenal run blocker – which McCaffrey is sure to love – but the former North Carolina State sensation needs some improvement in pass blocking. Brian Burns will surely help speed up the rookie’s development in practice and the Panthers saw enough to convince them he is worthy of starting responsibilities from Week 1.
Much-needed change to the protection was a long time coming. Fitterer has done a tremendous job the past two years assembling a good roster and filling the biggest needs of the team.
This offensive line needs time to gel. But it’ll be a major disappointment if significant improvements weren’t made compared to the previous campaign.
Keeping McCaffrey healthy for the entire season is more hopeful now. The right side of the line is secured with Taylor Moton and Corbett providing bigger holes for McCaffrey to run through and if the inexperienced left-hand side lives up to their end of the bargain, it could be the difference between success and failure in 2022.
McCaffrey has more doubters now than he’s ever experienced playing football at any level. He certainly looks like his elite self this offseason, but that will count for nothing if he misses a considerable period once again.