4 burning questions Carolina Panthers fans are asking ahead of Week 4 vs. Vikings

The stakes couldn't be higher heading into Week 4.

Ikem Ekwonu
Ikem Ekwonu / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
2 of 5

Evaluation of Carolina Panthers OT Ikem Ekwonu

Do we still like the Ikem Ekwonu draft pick? - Austin S.

Due respect to Austin, this question is being asked in relation to Ikem Ekwonu's recent struggles against the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks. In short, my answer to his question is a resounding yes.

However, let's dive into the evaluation process for Ekwonu during his sophomore NFL campaign so far.

Ekwonu has had his ups and downs since entering the league. Most of the former No. 6 overall selection's play has been fairly positive with obvious improvement in many aspects of his game. Even so, he's still a young player developing his technique and down-to-down consistency.

It's rare that rookie offensive tackles, especially ones that are drafted as high as Ekwonu, are top 10 players at their position on either side of the offensive line in Year 1. Tristan Wirfs, Penei Sewell, and Rashawn Slater are the exceptions due to their already high-level football IQ, technique, or functional athleticism.

Was Sunday rough for Ekwonu? Yes, beyond that, too.

As someone who is quite even-keeled during games or with his overall analysis, the consecutive false starts by No. 79 made me very frustrated. That must be corrected and Ekwonu knows that, too.

Yet, he's a young edge protector working on his consistency and overall game. There is no telling how much he improves or doesn't. I am willing to give Ekwonu at least another two years before considering the idea of the Carolina Panthers pursuing another left tackle.