3 key areas Ikem Ekwonu must improve after standout rookie season

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu /
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Ikem Ekwonu
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Ikem Ekwonu /

Ikem Ekwonu must improve consistency

The Carolina Panthers got more outstanding performances from Ikem Ekwonu in one season than anyone else at the left tackle position since Jordan Gross hung up his cleats a decade ago. General manager Scott Fitterer hit the jackpot when the top player on their draft board fell to No. 6 overall and there is nothing to suggest he cannot reach or even exceed some lofty expectations in the years to come.

Ekwonu’s physically imposing and technically sound. However, the next step in the player’s development must be improving consistency moving forward.

This bears more significance when Ekwonu comes up against the league’s most ferocious pass rushers. There were times when the player was found wanting versus the truly elite, which represents the biggest remaining challenge for a player with enormous promise.

It would be a huge surprise if Ekwonu didn’t evolve positively next season and beyond. Carolina might also have a new franchise quarterback for the lineman to protect depending on how things play out early in the 2023 NFL Draft.

For the first offseason in a long while, the left tackle position is not an issue. Ekwonu’s ceiling rose considerably based on his rookie efforts, but there is no room for complacency as he looks to take his game to completely new heights next season.

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