6. Carolina Panthers: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
In an offseason where several underperforming coaches were let go, Matt Rhule was able to stay alive. It’s a bit surprising considering he was given a massive contract ahead of 2020 and is just 10-23 in two seasons. There were also rumors that the owner of the team was embarrassed by the deal he gave to Rhule — and he really should be since he was bidding against the Giants who have been terrible at picking coaches in recent seasons.
Still, they elected to give Rhule one more season and like many of the teams in the top-10, there’s a lot of room for improvement in Carolina. They need to figure out who will play under center as Sam Darnold faded out fast following a quick start and Cam Newton’s return to glory lasted just one game.
There will be options out there and chances remain high that Rhule will want a veteran rather than a rookie. Whoever it is they go with, not many quarterbacks will have success with the offensive line the Panthers currently employ.
This is why they use their first pick in 2022 on North Carolina State’s Ikem Ekwonu. The 6-foot-4, 320-pound Ekwonu has played left tackle and guard but would be best served at tackle for the Panthers — who need help there in the worst way.