The BEST Draft Choices By The Carolina Panthers Throughout History
The Draft is arriving and as we have discussed the “BUST” of the Carolina Panthers; we must now talk about the great picks by the organization.
Now In this list there isn’t going to be any top picks…..that’s too easy. We have to look at the guys that the organization looked at, studied and reached for in the rounds other than round one. I will say though if this list contained those guys I would list:
Julius Peppers, 2nd overall pick in the 2002 NFL Draft.
Jordan Gross, 8th overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft.
Thomas Davis, 14th overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.
DeAngelo Williams, 27th Overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.
Cam Newton, 1st overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.
Luke Kuechly, 9th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.
These guys where top round picks and played like top round picks. They deserve to be mentioned in this list but; I am looking for the guys that we weren’t real sure about and proved to everybody they could play with the best.
I start my list with coverage:
Mike Minter, 56th overall pick in the 1997 NFL Draft. Mike became the starter in the teams’ 6th game of the 97’ season and he remained there until his retirement in 2006. This is a second round pick that played with heart and tenacity throughout his career. When he left the Panthers he had recorded 790 tackles, 15 forced fumbles and 15 interceptions.
You have to catch the ball:
Muhsin Muhammad, 43rd overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft. Muhsin didn’t start his career on fire; after 2 pedestrian seasons he earned his full-time starting spot in 1998. In 1999 he exploded, earning his first Pro-Bowl with 96 receptions, 8 touchdowns and 1,253 total yards. In 2004 he would earn his second Pro-Bowl selection behind 1,404 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns. He was released by the Panthers in 2005 after not being able to come to contract terms. His talents weren’t lacking as he went to the Bears and played from 2005 to 2007; then made his return to the Panthers until his retirement in 2009.
Linebackers…… get on my back:
James Anderson, 88th overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft. I didn’t say they still had to be playing for the team. What took some time for his career to get going he made plays on the field and improvements off the field until he got his first start in October against the Bengals. In 2012 playing the Giants, Anderson recorded a franchise record 20 tackles in a single game. Much to the disappointment of many Panthers fans he was released in 2013 due to salary cap issues. Anderson ended his time with the Panthers with 94 appearances, the most by a linebacker in Panthers history.
Hike me the Ball:
Ryan Kalil, 59th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. We never knew he could sing. Kalil is a four time Pro-Bowl selection and remains a key component on the Panthers’ offensive line. Something you may not know about our own “vocal artist” he ran a 4.94 in the 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine.
Charles Johnson, 83rd overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Didn’t get to hit the field much in his rookie year; being behind guys like: Julius Peppers and Mike Rucker will do that to you. In 2008 he appeared in 16 games; after Mike Rucker’s retirement he showed great strides and improvement. The 2010 campaign gave Johnson his first year as a starter; and he continues to wreck-havoc on the defensive line for the Panthers.
Captain Munnerlyn, 216th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. I understand this is up for debate but anytime you get years of quality “Heart and Production” from a 7th round pick….he’s on the list. Captain began his NFL career by battling for the punt return job; this later became his and then he moved into the defensive back field. He is not going to wow you with stats but he will give you 110% of everything he’s got; that has earned him a starting role and now a job with the Minnesota Vikings. Oh and for those that don’t know; Captain was named after his great-great grandfather.
Early in his career:
Greg Hardy, 175th overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. It is early in his career so we will make this short and sweet, Da Kraken. Hardy was a Pro-Bowl selection this past year and is more confident than an army of giants. But isn’t that what you want in a pass-rusher?!
Now I saved the best for last….well best in my opinion. “ICE UP SON”:
Steve Smith, 74th overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. So much to say about the famed 89 of the Carolina Panthers; in his rookie season he spent much of the time as a punt and kick returner. In his first play as a Pro he returned an opening kickoff for a touchdown; in Smith’s rookie season he led all rookies in net yardage with 1,994 yards. In 2002 Smith took a starting role as a wide receiver and continued his duties as a special-team specialist. Smith is a five time Pro-Bowl selection (01’, 05’, 06’, 08’, and 11’) and holds the record for the Carolina Panthers for receiving yards. This past year Smith also received his 800th career reception. As all Panthers’ fans know the date that will forever burn in our hearts is March 13th, 2014; this is the day Steve Smith was released by the Panthers organization. On March 14th, 2014 he signed a deal with the Baltimore Ravens (that didn’t take long). But thinks to “Smitty” for giving us great seasons and great slogans.
This has been fun; going through the years and the draft decisions by the Panthers organization. It is hard to narrow down to a few short guys; which one you want to mention and which you want to keep on the shelf.
Let us know what player you might add to the list in the comment section below.