CHARLOTTE — The Carolina Panthers have a new quarterback.
The team traded up to get Ole Miss QB Matt Corral in the third round of the NFL Draft.
In a deal with the New England Patriots, the Panthers sent their 137th overall pick this year and a third-round pick next year. In turn, the Panthers got the 94th overall pick this year to grab Corral.
The 23-year-old Corral will be under contract for the next four seasons, the team stated in a news release.
The 6-foot-2, 212-pound quarterback went to the Sugar Bowl last season but suffered a high ankle sprain in the game that kept him from working out at the Combine.
Corral completed 67.9% of his passes last year for 3,349 yards and 20 touchdowns.
“I just know what separates me is my leadership,” Corral said at the Scouting Combine. “Obviously my physical ability, my arm talent, but me having an understanding of Xs and Os and understanding protections. I think that’s what separates me.”
The Panthers still have QB Sam Darnold and head coach Matt Rhule said after Friday night’s pick, “If we go play tomorrow, Sam Darnold would be our quarterback.”
Rhule said Corral will not begin as a starter and can learn under Darnold and QB PJ Walker.
When Corral is ready to play, he will get the opportunity, Rhule said at Friday night’s news conference.
Panthers select Charlotte-native Ikem Ekwonu with 6th overall pick in NFL Draft
The Carolina Panthers selected Charlotte-native and N.C. State OT Ikem “Ickey’' Ekwonu with the 6th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
“I’m grateful to Mr. Tepper and Coach Rhule and everyone who put their faith in me,” Ekwonu said. “I will do everything I can to show the Panthers weren’t wrong in picking me. And I am the right man for the job.”
The Panthers haven’t used a first-rounder on a tackle since Jeff Otah in 2008 with 19th overall, according to the Panthers.
The 21-year-old gives them a chance to put together what should be an improved line.
Ekwonu, who was born in Charlotte and starred at Providence Day, went to N.C. State where he started at tackle as a sophomore.
The 6-foot-4, 310-pounder had become a dominant blocker and earned All-American honors.
(WATCH BELOW: Channel 9 Coverage of the 2022 Panthers Draft Special)
Ekwonu not only played football in high school, he was also part of the school chorus and played the lead in several musicals.
Ekwonu’s former choral teacher told Channel 9 that he is passionate about everything he does.
“You could tell he just loved singing, but he also loved being in the group,” said Libby Tilson, choral director. “He had a great sense of humor. He was well-liked, and it just really kind of added a little spark to the group having him there.”
(WATCH BELOW: Providence Day athletic director talks about Panthers first-round pick Ikem Ekwonu)
The athletic director for Providence Day spoke with Channel 9 about his work ethic.
“He’s a great role model on and off the field,” said Nancy Beatty, athletic director.
Ekwonu was nicknamed “Ickey’' by a youth coach because he looked like former Cincinnati Bengals running back Ickey Woods.
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