Ranking the top 10 Carolina Panthers players on the active roster in 2023

Jeremy Chinn
Jeremy Chinn / Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
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No. 5: Ikem Ekwonu - Carolina Panthers OT

When I slotted Ikem Ekwonu here, it somehow finally came to me: the Carolina Panthers finally have a franchise left tackle after all of these years. Not since Jordan Gross has the franchise had a consistent blindside presence, and they negated to address the position until this past season.

Is it bold of me to list Ekwonu as one of the five best players on the roster? Probably.

However, what he showed in the final 14 games was nothing short of great football play.

Ekwonu got a lot of heat early in the season from fans after struggling against Myles Garrett, arguably the best pass rusher in America. Even so, he kept pushing ahead and became a lot more consistent in pass protection as the year went on.

Sure, the No. 6 overall selection in 2022 sometimes had issues with hand placement and hitting his landmarks in pass sets. Ekwonu struggled with penalties throughout the season, which was to be expected from a rookie offensive lineman. Even so, the positives outweighed the negatives.

Ekwonu did well by dominating opposing pass rushers for stretches at a time. He's an absolute mauler in all phases, playing with ruthless aggression at the point of attack, displaying a strong anchor, and becoming a brick wall once he latched onto his man.

The former North Carolina State star is extremely talented and will soon submit himself as the cornerstone left tackle for the Panthers, protecting Bryce Young for what we hope is the next 10-plus years.