By Steve Reed
AP Sports activities Author
CHARLOTTE — The Carolina Panthers addressed a longstanding want on Thursday night time, choosing offensive sort out Ikem “Ickey” Ekwonu from North Carolina State with the sixth choose within the NFL draft.
The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Ekwonu is anticipated to be penciled in to start out straight away at left sort out.
Ekwonu, whose nickname “Ickey” was given to him by a youth soccer coach who thought he performed like former Cincinnati Bengals operating again Ickey Woods, is taken into account gentle on his toes and has the power to lock up defenders together with his lengthy arms.
Carolina entered the draft with two obvious wants — quarterback and left sort out — and for weeks followers have debated which route the group ought to go. However this draft was heavy on offensive tackles and lightweight on standout quarterbacks, so the Panthers elected so as to add a move protector.
It helped that the primary 5 gamers chosen within the draft have been defensive gamers, the primary time that has occurred since 1991. That gave the Panthers the selection of Ekwonu and Alabama’s Evan Neal, who went one choose behind Ekwonu to the New York Giants.
Ekwonu turns into the primary offensive sort out chosen by the Panthers since Jeff Otah in 2008.
Carolina has struggled to discover a consistency on the place since Michael Oher retired in 2016, one 12 months after the Panthers reached the Tremendous Bowl. Carolina has not made the playoffs since 2017.
The Panthers allowed 52 sacks final season, fifth-most within the NFL and their quarterbacks spent the season beneath main duress many of the 12 months.
Common supervisor Scott Fitterer put an enormous emphasis on revamping the inside offensive line by way of free company, including guard Austin Corbett from the Tremendous Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams and heart Bradley Bozeman from the Baltimore Ravens to fill wants.
Ekwonu provides to that record of enhancements on the O-line.
Ekwonu wore a inexperienced and white swimsuit to the draft representing his Nigerian heritage.
The Panthers don’t have a draft choose as we speak after buying and selling away their second and third spherical draft picks final 12 months for quarterback Sam Darnold and cornerback C.J. Henderson, respectively. They aren’t slated to select once more till the fourth spherical (No. 137) on Saturday.