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2022 NFL Draft Review: Carolina Panthers

Adrian Holman

The Carolina Panthers started off last season on a hot streak by starting out the season 3-0. However, Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey suffered a hamstring injury in their Week 3 win against the Houston Texans. He tried to come back, but suffered a season-ending ankle injury in November. Not even the comeback of QB Cam Newton could help this team out last season.

Carolina needs plenty of help because the Panthers finished last in the NFC South Division with a 5-12 record. Hopefully, the Panthers were able to find some new prospects in last month's National Football League (NFL) Draft.

Round 1, Pick 6: Ikem Ekwonu - T - North Carolina State (6'4", 310 lbs).

Ekwonu started for the past three seasons for the Wolfpack and was an All-American this season at offensive tackle. Ekwonu was definitely one of the top 3 offensive tackles in this draft. The Panthers offensive line gave up 52 sacks last season, so drafting a top tackle was necessary.

Round 3, Pick 30: Matt Corral - QB - Ole Miss (6'2", 212 lbs, 3,349 passing yards, 20 TD, 5 INT, 67.9 completion percentage, 614 rushing yards, 11 rushing TD).

Corral looks to be the back-up QB for this season as he will be given time to develop behind starting QB Sam Darnold. Corral throws a very accurate ball and has the ability to run. The Panthers make up for their mistake from last season for not drafting a quarterback.

Round 4, Pick 15: Brandon Smith - LB - Penn State (6'3 1/2", 250 lbs, 81 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 5 pass break-ups).

Smith will compete for time at the strong-side linebacker because he is capable of making tackles and dropping back into coverage.

Round 6, Pick 10: Amare Barno - DE - Virginia Tech (6'5", 246 lbs, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks).

Barno did not have too much production on the field, but he had a 4.36 40 time, which is the fastest time for a defensive end in NFL combine history. If he doesn't see some time on passing downs, then Carolina is crazy. However, he will have to convert all of that speed into consistent production.

Round 6, Pick 21: Cade Mays - G - Tennessee (6'5", 311 lbs).

Mays have played at all five offensive line spots at some time during his college career. His versatility will add depth to the Panthers offensive line.

Round 7, Pick 21: Kalon Barnes - CB - Baylor (5'11 1/2", 183 lbs, 1 INT, 5 pass break-ups).

Barnes has speed to burn for days after running a 4.23 40 time. However, that speed did not stop opposing receivers from toasting him down the field. Barnes will be given time to develop.

Overall, this draft finally addressed the weaknesses the Panthers should have addressed last season. Grade: B-.

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