4 players who'll benefit most from Carolina Panthers hiring Dave Canales

Dave Canales could help these Carolina Panthers players reach new heights in 2024 and beyond.

Dave Canales
Dave Canales / Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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Ikem Ekwonu - Carolina Panthers OT

One of the biggest disappointments to emerge from the 2023 season was Ikem Ewonu's regression. The offensive tackle looked destined for great things after catching the eye as a rookie. This wasn't backed up in Year 2 of his professional career thanks to a steep sophomore slump.

Ekwonu was a liability in pass protection for the most part. The blocking concepts deployed by Frank Reich and Thomas Brown didn't suit his particular set of physical attributes. His confidence dipped significantly as the campaign progressed - not the strides forward any were anticipating from the No. 6 overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Debates are already raging among the fanbase about where Ekwonu is best suited moving forward. Some believe he should be switched to the interior. Others remain confident he can thrive on the edge with a little extra assistance in a scheme that plays to his strengths.

This is for Dave Canales and Dan Morgan to decide. What cannot be disputed is the need to make Ekwonu more comfortable, build his confidence back up, and ensure he returns to a dominant force next season. The North Carolina State product is far from a lost cause. Perhaps a fresh set of eyes and coaching methods could be exactly what he needs at this critical stage of his NFL journey.

The Carolina Panthers will acquire reinforcements to their offensive line in some capacity this offseason. But considering the substantial investment made in Ekwonu, getting him back on track is a huge priority for Canales and his staff.