2022 NFL Draft - Round 1

Source: David Becker / Getty

The Carolina Panthers made a big statement to bolster their offensive line by selecting NC State offensive lineman Ikem Ekwonu with the sixth overall pick in the NFL Draft.

Ekwonu fell unexpectedly into the Carolina’s lap along with the rest of the contingent of draftable offensive linemen. The Ekwonu selection is an easy sell for many Panthers fans, as the former Charlotte native and Providence Day graduate will begin his professional career in his home state.

Many thought with all the linemen available, that the Panthers would trade down to increase their draft capital. Carolina does not currently have a pick until #137 overall and the fourth round. General Manager Scott Fitterer said Tuesday that the team will explore all avenues to acquire more picks, but don’t want to borrow against future drafts.

Ekwonu is the first Charlotte native the Panthers have drafted in the first round, and the first North Carolina native selected in the opening round since Julius Peppers in 2002.