The Panthers solidified the left tackle spot with their first round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
In case you missed it, the Panthers selected N.C. State offensive tackle Ikem ‘Ickey’ Ekwonu with the No. 6 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft last night. As always, the instant reaction grades are in, and the experts all believe the Panthers knocked the pick out of the park.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the grades the Panthers received for their selection of Ickey Ekwonu.
Pete Prisco: The Panthers played spinning tops at left tackle last year, so getting a tackle was a no brainer in this draft. I liked Evan Neal more, but I get this choice. Ekwonu needs to work on his pass protection some, but he is fixable.
Instant grade: A
Analysis: The Panthers could not have crafted a better top five for what they needed. Ekwonu will fit on the left side of the offensive line as a physical player who is a good enough athlete to play at tackle. Out of the top three tackles, Ekwonu was the top on my board.
Many had Ekwonu going to the Jets or Giants, but he fell to the Panthers, which is good for them. There isn’t a quarterback in this draft worth the No. 6 spot and the next best thing is adding a stud to your offensive line.
The Panthers chose to pass on a quarterback and that decision was made easier by having their pick between Ekwonu and Evan Neal. Scott Fitterer circles back to address Carolina’s biggest need by looking right down the road to Raleigh for a strong, powerful but also very athletic force to form bookends with Taylor Moton. The Panthers’ QB course of action this year might be instead adding veteran competition for Sam Darnold.
Analysis: It’s easy to love Ekwonu because he is a beast in the run game (both in the box and downfield against smaller defenders in space) and has the agility, anchor and length to hold off NFL-caliber edge rushers. The Panthers fill a major need with the former N.C. State star. He will help whichever quarterback competes with Sam Darnold for the starting gig in the fall and can lead the way for RB Christian McCaffrey.
What do you think, Panthers fans? Are you happy with the pick? Why or why not? Share your thoughts with us!