4 Carolina Panthers draft hits and misses from 2022 so far

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu /

Carolina Panthers struck gold with Ikem Ekwonu

Sometimes the football gods shine down on you, bringing good fortune that can assist an organization for years to come. For the Carolina Panthers, this happened when Ikem Ekwonu dropped out of the top five and into their laps at No. 6 overall.

Ekwonu was the top prospect on their draft board after the assessment process. However, there weren’t many scenarios where the Panthers thought they’d have a legitimate chance of bringing the North Carolina State product to the team he supported as a boy.

As it turned out, all three left tackles were available and the Panthers wasted no time in making Ekwonu their guy. It was a rough start for the player in Week 1 against Myles Garrett as expected, but his consistency ever since has been nothing short of outstanding operating on the blindside.

It normally takes time for rookies to fully adjust to coping with NFL defensive linemen. So for Ekwonu to be thriving in such a way this early is enormously encouraging.

In 583 offensive snaps this season, Ekwonu has given up three sacks and conceded 10 penalties en route to a 66.6 grade from Pro Football Focus. Those sacks came in the first fortnight and the lineman was responsible for four infringements against the Atlanta Falcons, which should improve with additional experience.

This was a home-run hit from the Panthers. One that finally gives them a franchise left tackle they’ve been desperately seeking since Jordan Gross retired.