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The Carolina Panthers should be proud of the work they’ve done along its offensive line this year. But how proud?
According to Pro Football Focus, pretty darn proud.
In the site’s recent rankings of the NFL’s 32 units, lead draft analyst Mike Renner puts forth a refreshing and encouraging forecast for the Panthers’ revamped front. Not only does he not place them amongst the league’s very worst groups, but he also even admits his No. 24 ranking for Carolina is an optimistically cautious one.
“This is a conservative estimate for what was one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last season — but it’s one that is now bursting with potential after multiple offseason moves,” Renner writes. “Taylor Moton has played more than 1,000 snaps and earned a 76.0-plus PFF grade in four straight seasons. That’s Carolina’s building block, and the team added a couple of free agents on the interior to raise the unit’s floor. The offensive line’s ultimate performance will obviously depend a lot on how quickly rookie Ikem Ekwonu can adjust to pass protecting at the NFL level after he earned only a 78.3 pass-blocking grade last season for N.C. State.”
Ekwonu, of course, is the crown jewel of the team’s solid offseason. The 6-foot-4, 310-pounder was (somehow) the first offensive lineman selected in the 2022 NFL draft and is expected to become the long-term left tackle this franchise has been sorely lacking.
General manager Scott Fitterer and head coach Matt Rhule also found themselves a few steals earlier in the spring with the free-agent signings of guard Austin Corbett and center Bradley Bozeman—who will serve as massive upgrades to the line’s interior.
This bunch, no doubt, is the most promising one the Panthers have fielded in quite some time.