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    Carolina Panthers draft Ikem Ekwonu sixth overall in 2022 NFL Draft

    Ikem Ekwonu was drafted sixth overall by the Panthers in the 2022 NFL Draft -- what is his rookie contract and fit on the depth chart?

    With the sixth overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers selected North Carolina State OT Ikem Ekwonu. What will Ekwonu’s rookie contract look like, and where does he project into the Panthers’ current depth chart?

    Ikem Ekwonu drafted sixth overall by the Carolina Panthers

    After moving to left tackle, Ekwonu earned first-team All-American and first-team All-ACC selections. He was also a finalist for the Outland Trophy. The last NC State offensive lineman selected in the first round was Garrett Bradbury at 18th overall by the Minnesota Vikings in 2019.

    Ekwonu’s projected rookie contract

    Because Ekwonu was the sixth overall selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, this is what his projected rookie contract should look like. Contract numbers are from Over the Cap.

    • Total Value: $31.8 million
    • Signing Bonus: $20.3 million
    • 2022 Base Salary: $705,000
    • 2022 Cap Number: $5.8 million

    Ekwonu’s strengths and areas to improve

    Here is a snapshot of what the Panthers will be getting with the selection of Ekwonu. For further information, check out Ekwonu’s full scouting report.

    Strengths

    • Often is first to the punch with powerful, violent hands
    • Can get into his pass sets quickly and has the footwork to mirror rushers
    • Versatility to be an elite guard with All-Pro potential

    Areas for improvement

    • Inconsistency with his hand placement
    • Susceptible to giving up the inside to his opponent
    • Has difficulty handling speedy, agile pass rushers

    How does Ekwonu project in the Panthers’ depth chart?

    Ekwonu is a mauler of an offensive lineman. His growth from 2020 to 2021 was fantastic, and he was a great interview during Super Bowl Radio Row. The Panthers’ offensive line was abysmal in 2021. They couldn’t head into 2022 with Cam Erving entrenched as their left tackle. It would have been a bloodbath for whatever quarterback took snaps for them.

    Now, they’ve upgraded the interior of the offensive line with Bradley Bozeman and Austin Corbett. They already had Taylor Moton on the right side, who was the strength of their line last season. Upgrading the offensive line is the only way to truly get a picture of what kind of QB Sam Darnold can be moving forward.

    When do the Panthers pick next in the 2022 NFL Draft?

    As of the time they drafted Ekwonu, the Panthers have these remaining picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.

    • Round 4 (Pick 108 from Texans)
    • Round 5 (Pick 144 from Jaguars)
    • Round 5 (Pick 149)
    • Round 6 (Pick 199 from Raiders)
    • Round 7 (Pick 242 from Patriots via Dolphins)

    For the full results and upcoming draft order, check out our pick-by-pick tracker for the 2022 NFL Draft.

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