CHARLOTTE — The Carolina Panthers made key enhancements throughout their roster within the 2022 NFL Draft.
The Panthers completed with six picks and two trades made. Most significantly, the Panthers recognized two future franchise pillars in left deal with Ikem Ekwonu from N.C. State and Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral.
General manager Scott Fitterer and his scouting department showcased their NFL team-building experience by navigating an unpredictable draft whereas attempting to unravel their deficiencies on the two key positions. Across the league, the Panthers are receiving optimistic opinions.
Choosing Ekwonu was extensively considered as a wonderful decide. Some consultants are extra cut up about Corral. However there is no such thing as a debating that Carolina approached the draft by concentrating on proficient athletes with freakish traits.
Spherical 1 (No. 6): OT Ikem Ekwonu (N.C. State)
Individuals are additionally studying…
Spherical 3 (No. 94):QB Matt Corral (Ole Miss)
Spherical 4 (No. 120): LB Brandon Smith (Penn State)
Spherical 6 (No. 189):DE Amare Barno (Virginia Tech)
Spherical 6 (No. 199): OL Cade Mays (Tennessee)
Spherical 7 (No. 242):CB Kalon Barnes (Baylor)
However what do nationwide draft analysts suppose? We rounded up their grades and what they needed to say concerning the Panthers’ 2022 draft.
‘Greatly improving offensive line with Ekwonu’
Reuter’s take:“Carolina played the quarterback market well, landing the talented Corral in the third round (paying the reasonable price of a 2023 third-round pick to move up for him) while greatly improving the offensive line with Ekwonu. They had previously traded second- and fourth-round picks in the deal for Sam Darnold, though. That investment has yet to pay off.
“Carolina made a slight move up the board to select Smith, which is fair considering his athleticism. Barno was a quality pick in the sixth round, as was the strong and experienced Mays. Barnes is a speed demon.”
‘Corral is another significant gamble’
Davis’ take:“Getting N.C. State’s Ickey Ekwonu at No. 6 could prove larcenous, particularly for a team that desperately needed a left tackle. GM Scott Fitterer and coach Matt Rhule also maneuvered back into Round 3 for Ole Miss QB Matt Corral. But they probably wish they hadn’t spent their original second-rounder on Darnold nor their third on CB C.J. Henderson. And though this franchise has desperately pursued solutions under center, Corral is another significant gamble … one from which Rhule may not recover.”
Major wants addressed
Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News
Iyer’s take:“The Panthers did well to address their primary needs with GM Scott Fitterer, being able to land Ekwonu to shore up offensive tackle and also get a rookie QB with arm/athleticism upside to push Sam Darnold. Mays is a sneaky developmental player who can start in time. Now the team also doesn’t need to force a trade for another veteran QB.”
Corral correct, ‘exceptional deep ball’
Workers, Pro Football Focus
PFF’s take: “The board couldn’t have fallen much better for Carolina, with all three of the top offensive tackle prospects still on the board. The Panthers opted for the top run-blocker in the class in Ekwonu. The N.C. State tackle earned PFF run-blocking grades above 85.0 in all three of his college seasons, with grades above 90.0 in each of the last two years. …
“Corral wouldn’t have been a good pick in Round 1, but he provides value late on Day 2. Corral’s offense at Ole Miss made his projection to the NFL a little more difficult, as it was full of RPOs and simplistic reads. Despite the quarterback-friendly offense, Corral was consistently on time and delivered accurate throws while showing off an exceptional deep ball. Corral’s 2021 season took a nosedive midseason due to injury. His 91.1 PFF grade through Week 7 was the fourth-highest in the FBS, but that mark fell 20 grading points to 70.6 from Week 8 on.
“Smith is an athletic project, but he’s a project well worth taking at this stage of the draft. The production profile isn’t overly impressive. Smith earned PFF grades below 60.0 in each of the last two years at Penn State. But the NFL is always going to look for 6-foot-4, 250-pound linebackers who test above the 90th percentile in the 40-yard dash, broad jump and short shuttle. Now, the Panthers just need to figure out how to use him.”
Ekwonu is ‘just a baller’
Kiper’s take:“The Panthers entered this draft in a tough position. They had clear needs at quarterback and offensive tackle but didn’t have any picks on Day 2 because of two different trades (including one for Sam Darnold last season). Should they reach for a quarterback at No. 6? Take one of the great offensive tackles available? Or trade down to try to add some capital?
“Ultimately, they went with the top tackle in the class in Ikem Ekwonu — and were still able to get a quarterback at a nice value later in the draft. Let’s start with Ekwonu. He’s just a baller. He bullies defenders in the run game, and he toys with them as a pass-protector because of his ability to move his feet. He is the left tackle this team needs.
“And for the quarterback? The Panthers sent pick No. 137 and a 2023 third-rounder next year to move up to snag a sliding Matt Corral (94), whom I rated as the No. 32 prospect on my Big Board. Corral has his detractors — his offense relied on a lot of RPOs, and he needs to process reads faster — but he has a lightning-quick release and can make plays with his feet. I definitely think he could challenge Darnold this season, and I don’t see a need for Carolina to trade for Baker Mayfield now (though I do think Mayfield can help a team this season). I do wonder if this relieves some of the pressure on coach Matt Rhule, as he won’t have to start Corral immediately. Still, the Panthers need to compete in the NFC South if he wants to keep his job for 2023 and beyond.”