Carolina Panthers OT Ikem Ekwonu tipped for breakout 2023
There was a lot to like about Ikem Ekwonu's performance levels for the Carolina Panthers in 2022. It was a rude awakening for the left tackle against Myles Garrett in Week 1 as expected, but he recovered well after and put together a pretty solid campaign all things considered.
Ekwonu looks every bit like the franchise blindside presence the Panthers have craved since Jordan Gross' retirement a decade ago. The former North Carolina State stud also has a true No. 1 quarterback to protect after Bryce Young came into the fold during the 2023 NFL Draft.
This has the scope to become a dominant pairing that can contribute to sustainable success in Carolina. Something that was reflected by Bucky Brooks of NFL.com recently, who named Ekwonu to his all-breakout team for next season.
"[Ikem] Ekwonu showed flashes of brilliance as a 17-game starter in Year 1. From his ability to maul defenders as a run blocker to his anchor and mirror skills in pass protection, Ekwonu displayed the raw tools that made him the No. 6 overall pick in last year's draft. Now it's about providing consistent dominance. Given an entire offseason to refine and polish his technique under the watchful eye of offensive line guru James Campen, the 6-4 320-pounder could vie for individual honors with a leap from good to great in Year 2."- Bucky Brooks, NFL.com
Ekwonu now has legitimate NFL experience to call upon, which will help. Getting the same starting offensive line back for another go-around is something else that should assist enormously once Austin Corbett recovers from a torn ACL.