Carolina Panthers OT Ikem Ekwonu poised for huge 2023
After a rocky opening to his NFL journey in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns, offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu recovered well and enjoyed an outstanding rookie campaign. Something that the Carolina Panthers are hoping to build upon after coach James Campen agreed to stay on under the new regime.
Ekwonu has extra responsibilities next season given how vital it is for Bryce Young to get the protection needed. It'll be interesting to see how much growth the former North Carolina State star can make with another full offseason under experienced coaches, but all signs point to the hometown favorite becoming a genuine star at the position.
This is a sentiment echoed by Adam Rank from NFL.com, who tipped Ekwonu for breakout stardom in his recent feature examining the current state of affairs in Carolina.
"He was recently selected to my colleague Bucky Brooks' 2023 All-Breakout Team. Who am I to argue with that assessment? (Well, the Bears fan in me would rather have Braxton Jones on that list. And hey, another colleague, David Carr, kind of agreed with me. But I digress.) Ekwonu, the sixth overall pick in 2022, was pretty good during his rookie season. He came in as a dominant force in the run game, as a lot of these young O-linemen are. The work he's put in during the offseason should show up in the passing game this year."- Adam Rank, NFL.com
Ekwonu has a ruthless mentality that's hard not to love. He's well on course to becoming a franchise cornerstone and the Panthers made the right call by taking him at No. 6 overall selection when they received a gift from the football gods.