Skip to main content

Panthers OT Ickey Ekwonu has no favorite in QB battle: 'Whoever's back there, I'll be doing everything I can to keep him safe'

After using the sixth overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft to select Ickey Ekwonu, the Carolina Panthers are hopeful they have the foundation of their offensive line for seasons to come.

Just who Ekwonu will be protecting at quarterback in his rookie season remains to seen, however. Ekwonu was at the OL Masterminds summit in Texas when he found out the Panthers had traded for Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, igniting a training camp QB competition with Sam Darnold, and possibly with rookie Matt Corral and P.J. Walker, as well.

Ekwonu isn't backing any particular signal-caller, though. Instead, he's lending his support to head coach Matt Rhule and his staff's decision-making.

"Whoever the coaching staff puts out there, you know, I feel like we'll be ready to go," Ekwonu told NFL Network's Jane Slater at the Masterminds summit, which took place July 6 through Sunday. "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."

A 6-foot-4, 320-pound earth-mover out of N.C. State, the 21-year-old Ekwonu was a top-10 pick largely because of his excellence on the field. However, the youngster's already showing his chops off of it. The Panthers' QB competition is sure to dominate the headlines and be a topic every Carolina player is asked about in the coming weeks, but Ekwonu's seasoned enough to know not to choose sides and instead underscore his confidence in his coaches to make the right decision.

"I feel like, competition brings best out of everybody," Ekwonu answered when asked by Slater if he believed competition, in general, was good at each position. "I'm just gonna leave it at that, competition brings out the best in everybody. I'm excited for the future of this program."

Ekwonu's already showcasing his acumen with the media and just how he fares on the field as a rookie should be as anticipated as whomever it is that he's protecting.

Related Content