Carolina Panthers' best player under 25?
It was fantastic to see Ikem Ekwonu flourish after some early challenges as a rookie. The left tackle was given his NFL baptism right out of the gate by Myles Garrett against the Cleveland Browns in Week 1, but he recovered well to accumulate a hugely encouraging campaign with substantial responsibilities on his shoulders.
Ekwonu looks every bit the franchise blindside protector the Carolina Panthers have craved since the days of Jordan Gross. The former first-round pick also has a legitimate quarterback to keep safe for the first time, which could bring about more in the way of consistency across the board.
The North Carolina State product received another confidence boost recently when Schuyler Callihan of Sports Illustrated named Ekwonu as Carolina's best player under 25 years old. This was ahead of Jaycee Horn, Terrace Marshall Jr., Chuba Hubbard, and Bryce Young.
"I think everyone can agree that Ickey is the most deserving of this top spot. He proved the front office right during his rookie season and competed his tail off against some of the best pass rushers the league has to offer. Ekwonu is only going to get better with time and before long, he'll be in the conversation as one of the top tackles in the NFL."- Schuyler Callihan, Sports Illustrated
If Ekwonu takes another step forward with another offseason to develop, he'll become a household name. Something that could even see the edge presence become one of the league's best at the position along the way.