Depending on who you ask, the Panthers really made the most of their limited picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. The way I see it? They got one surefire franchise player in NC State offensive lineman Ikem Ekwonu and after that, a bunch of boom or bust guys.
When you only make six picks in the draft, you have to hit on your early picks and draft for potential in day three. Well, the Panthers didn’t have a second or third rounder heading into the draft but managed to trade back up into the third to select Ole Miss quarterback, Matt Corral. The picks of LB Brandon Smith (Penn State), DE Amaré Barno (Virginia Tech), OL Cade Mays (Tennessee), and CB Kalon Barnes (Baylor) are not picks that are going to help this team immediately. Smith, Barno, and Mays could develop into starters over time, but to expect that in their rookie season would be unfair.
Considering the Panthers only added one immediate impact player, they are sitting toward the bottom of NFL Power Rankings everywhere. For a quick look around, here are where the Panthers rank post-draft, according to NFL.com, CBS Sports, and Bleacher Report.
NFL.com: No. 25, down two spots
Good for the Panthers. As the results of the draft confirmed, talent evaluators had no affection for this class of quarterbacks, so credit Carolina brass for resisting the temptation to fit a square peg into a round hole with the sixth overall pick. The Panthers instead focused on another glaring weakness at that spot, selecting Ikem Ekwonu, a tackle with All-Pro potential. With one sensible move in the can, the Panthers made another by stopping Matt Corral’s slide late in the third round. Barring a move that brings a veteran to town (Baker Mayfield? Jimmy Garoppolo?), Carolina could be ready to bite down hard and give Sam Darnold one more chance. If he flops, the team has the window to give the intriguing rookie from Ole Miss an early look.
CBS Sports: No. 30, down four spots
Scroll to Continue
There is talk they could still make a move to land Baker Mayfield, but for now it’s Sam Darnold again as their starter. They did draft Matt Corral, but this team isn’t talented enough.
Bleacher Report: No. 30
Well, the Carolina Panthers got their quarterback.Maybe. Sort of.After speculation that the Panthers could be the first team in the 2022 draft to take a quarterback, Carolina instead waited until the latter stages of Round 3 to draft Matt Corral of Ole Miss.Waiting that long would appear to signify that the Panthers have at least some confidence in Sam Darnold, although that confidence is tempered by the team’s pursuit of Deshaun Watson and aborted discussions with the Cleveland Browns about Baker Mayfield.Darnold’s protection should be better with the addition of offensive tackle Ikem Okwonu. And the return of a healthy Christian McCaffrey would no doubt be a big boost for the offense. But per Davenport, it’s still fixing to be a long season in Charlotte.”After fielding the league’s second-worst offensive line in 2021 per PFF, the additions of Okwonu, center Bradley Bozeman and guard Austin Corbett were important for the Panthers,” he said. “But outside those OL upgrades, this team looks an awful lot like the roster that pitched and lurched its way to a 5-12 record a year ago. Given the turmoil in Atlanta, the Panthers may not be the worst team in the NFC South. But they certainly aren’t any threat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, either.”
You can follow us for future coverage by liking us on Facebook & following us Twitter:
Facebook – @PanthersOnSI