Carolina Panthers OT Ikem Ekwonu ready to block for whoever coaches selects at QB

Anthony Rizzuti
Panthers Wire
6. Carolina Panthers – OT Ikem ‘Ickey’ Ekwonu, North Carolina State

Carolina Panthers offensive tackle Ikem Ekwonu won’t get paid to decide who should be starting under center. It’s only his job to make sure that whoever is there, stays there.

The sixth overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft spoke with NFL Network reporter Jane Slater from the OL Masterminds summit in Frisco, Texas this week. And with his Panthers acquiring Baker Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns — and his general manager promptly declaring a quarterback competition for the summer — Ekwonu was asked about the situation.

“Whoever the coaching staff puts out there, I feel like we’ll be ready to go,” he said. “We’re all just excited to enter training camp. I feel like we all got full confidence in the coaching staff and whoever’s back there, I’ll be doing everything I can to keep him safe.”

Mayfield will have to fend off fellow 2018 draftee Sam Darnold and 2022 third-rounder Matt Corral to secure the reins for Carolina. That shouldn’t be too tough of a task for the former No. 1 overall pick, especially considering he’s — by far — the most proven commodity in the quarterback room as head coach Matt Rhule enters a make-or-break season.

As for Ekwonu’s position, he too is the early favorite for his own competition. The battle for the left tackle spot will also presumably feature Brady Christensen, who impressed on the blindside during his rookie campaign, and veteran Cameron Erving.