3 primary keys to a shock Carolina Panthers divisional crown in 2022

(Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports) D'Onta Foreman
(Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports) D'Onta Foreman /
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Carolina Panthers
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Carolina Panthers OL improvements

The Carolina Panthers have not been known for quality offensive line play in the past. But thankfully, 2022 is completely different.

This unit has a run block win rate of 72 percent according to ESPN, which ranks top half of the NFL. In comparison to 2021, the Panthers had a run block win rate that ranked 26th in the league at 68%. This can be attributed to the complete overhaul made during the offseason and the introduction of new coach James Campen.

Taylor Moton has been a staple at right tackle since the moment he was drafted and solid play is expected, but the most impressive lineman has arguably been rookie Ikem Ekwonu. The North Carolina State product has been extraordinary all season and has given up just one sack since Week 3. In terms of his abilities in the run game, the No. 6 overall selection is improving and looks like a foundational piece at left tackle for years to come.

The guards have been tremendous as well and major upgrades over the position holders from a season ago. In terms of run block win rate, Austin Corbett and Brady Christensen rank No. 6 and No. 7 of all offensive guards in the NFL, both winning at a 75 percent clip following their arrivals in free agency.

Bozeman was one of the most popular signings during the off-season. Due to an unfortunate injury to the much-improved Pat Elflein, the center finally got his shot and has shined en route to becoming one of the league’s most productive players at the position, ranking 11th out of all centers with a 71.4 run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus.

Brady Christensen, who played tackle for his entire football career before joining the Panthers, has made gigantic leaps since being thrust into the lineup. The former BYU star is becoming a cornerstone piece next to Ekwonu in the trenches, which is another big positive for this once-maligned group.

With all the Panthers have been through this season, and some landmark changes to the gameplan in recent weeks, Carolina is red hot and ready for the final stretch. Typically, it takes more than just a strong rushing attack to win in the NFL, but with the NFC South up for grabs and Steve Wilks in the midst of a two-game winning streak, their ability to pound the rock can push them into a shock playoff berth is everything goes well in the coming weeks.

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