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Carolina Panthers draft Ikem Ekwonu, leaving open possibility of QB trade

Vincent Frank

The 2022 Carolina Panthers draft started with a bang Thursday evening from Las Vegas with general manager Scott Fitterer and Co. selecting Ikem Ekwonu from North Carolina State.

This is a pretty interesting situation for the Panthers. In lieu of going after a potential franchise quarterback in a weak class at that position, Carolina took the highest-rated player on their board at a position of need.

All of this comes on the heels of Panthers owner David Tepper indicating that he believes struggling quarterback Sam Darnold can be the future at that position in Carolina. Whether that’s believable remains to be seen. What this selection does is open the door for the Panthers to trade for a quarterback on the veteran market.

Related: Updated 2022 NFL Draft tracker

Does selection of Ikem Ekwonu mean that the Carolina Panthers will trade for a quarterback?

carolina panthers draft ikem ekwonu
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on the live broadcast that he expects Carolina to kick the tires on aquiring Baker Mayfield in a trade with the Cleveland Browns. Said report came after another suggestion earlier in the day that Carolina was among the handful of teams potentially interested in acquiring Mayfield during the 2022 NFL Draft.

There’s also been rumors that the Panthers might be interested in acquiring Super Bowl quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the San Francisco 49ers. Remember, San Francisco is set to go with youngster Trey Lance under center next season. Coming off shoulder surgery, the 49ers have been met with a cold market for Garoppolo’s services.

Any deal for these two signal callers would likely take place on Friday or Saturday if it did happen during the draft. If not, there’s a chance Carolina will look to make a move after the draft.

Carolina Panthers draft picks after Ikem Ekwonu

  • 4th round: 137th overall
  • 5th round: 144th overall, 149th overall
  • 6th round: 199th overall
  • 7th round: 242nd overall

As you can see, Carolina does not have a pick until the fourth round on Day 3. This stems from the blockbuster trade for Sam Darnold ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft last spring.

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With three picks in Round 4 and Round 5, the Carolina Panthers might be able to send one of them for either Mayfield or Garoppolo. It’s certainly something to keep an eye on given Darnold’s struggles a season ago.

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