Following the 2022 NFL Draft, it’s time to assess each team’s selections and today, hand out my grades for the Carolina Panthers and their draft class.
In short, I really loved what the Panthers did with this class, and you’ll see my final grade following the last selection. But first, I’ll go pick by pick and grade all six selections made in their 2022 class.
Round 1, Pick 6: Ikem Ekwonu, OT, NC State
Carolina grabs the hometown kid in Ikem Ekwonu with the 6th pick, and while I personally had Alabama tackle, Evan Neal, higher on my board, I can see why the Panthers elected to go with Ekwonu instead. With Brady Christensen at LT, there’s a good chance Ekwonu slides over to Guard to start Day 1 for Carolina. In my opinion, Ekwonu doesn’t currently possess the pass protection technique to be serviceable in the passing game at LT. Either way, this was the most glaring need outside of QB for Carolina. David Tepper and Co. did a fantastic job of holding their ground, and understood the value at QB in this class simply was nowhere near the value of the 6th overall pick. Love this pick for Carolina, especially coupled with what they elected to do in the 3rd round.
Round 3, Pick 30: Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss
As mentioned before, I absolutely loved the execution of the first 3 rounds by the Panthers. Without a second round pick (via the Sam Darnold trade), the Panthers came up to pick 30 to grab Matt Corral. Ultimately, the difference between Matt Corral and whichever quarterback they could’ve grabbed at the 6th overall pick is…minimal, to say the least. Day 1, I’m not sure Corral is a better quarterback than Darnold, and I’ll certainly be surprised if Corral starts. But I love the fit, the athletic traits, the pick value, and the process of selecting a “project” in the late 3rd round who can develop in this system, and maybe even save Matt Rhule’s job.