Carolina Panthers History Written by First Round Picks


The Carolina Panthers are about to have their twentieth NFL draft. That is twenty years of first round picks. In some ways the history of the Panthers can be written by their success drafting in the first round. Let’s look back at the twenty years and see if there is any correlation between who the Panthers have drafted first and the team success in general.

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Kerry Collins –QB – 5th overall
Tyrone Poole –CB -22nd overall
Blake Brockermeyer –T -29th overall

The 1995 rookie class proved to be very important for the Panthers’ early success as a franchise. Collins became the quarterback that got them to NFC Championship game in their second year of existence. Poole and Brockermeyer were good pieces too, and had roles on those early teams.

The Dom Capers Panthers started fast, but they eventually petered out. The departure of Bill Polian did not help the development of the roster. The drafting also suffered.

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  • 1996 Tshimanga Biakabutuka -RB – 8th overall
    1997 Rae Carruth –WR -27th overall
    1998 Jason Peter – DE- 14th overall
    1999 No Pick
    2000 Rashard Anderson –CB -23rd overall

    The Panthers endured five years of misses in the first round. The result was that the Capers Panthers declined and the George Seifert Panthers never emerged. Of the players involved, Biakabutuka is the most sympathetic. The talented back from Michigan just could not avoid injuries, because he had some truly magical plays.

    Peter and Anderson were just misses. The 1999 pick was part of the Sean Gilbert trade, which also did not deliver for the Panthers. Carruth was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder. The Panthers bottomed out in 2001 with the 1-15 season, but that is also when the drafting got better.

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  • 2001 Dan Morgan –LB -11th overall
    2002 Julius Peppers –DE -2nd overall
    2003 Jordan Gross –T -8th overall
    2004 Chris Gamble –CB -28th overall
    2005 Thomas Davis –LB -14th overall
    2006 DeAngelo Williams – RB -27th overall
    2007 Jon Beason – LB -25th overall
    2008 Jonathan Stewart – RB -13th overall
    Jeff Otah – T – 19th overall

    This group of guys represents much of what made the John Fox/Marty Hurney Panthers contenders. All of these guys were hits. Sure Morgan and Beason eventually left the team because of injuries, but both were close to all-pro status when fully healthy. Injuries nipped at quite of a few of these guys at one time or another. We are only now seeing the best of Thomas Davis some ten years after he entered the league.

    The Fox teams were schizophrenic, producing real good squads including the only Super Bowl appearance by the Panthers. However they also had down years and the end of the Fox tenure was on the down side. If you look at the two drafts from those two years, it makes sense.

    In fact that could be extended to Jeff Otah, the road grading Pittsburgh tackle who could just not stay healthy. When the Panthers needed new blood to push them back into contention, it just wasn’t there.

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    2009 – No Pick
    2010 – No Pick

    That stagnation ended the John Fox era in a 2-14 season. The other story line was the Panthers’ hole at quarterback. They had never quite replaced Jake Delhomme when his arm had broken down. In came new coach Ron Rivera and a number 1 overall pick.

    2011– Cam Newton –QB -1st overall
    2012– Luke Kuechly –LB -9th overall
    2013– Star Lotulelei –DT – 14th overall
    2014– Kelvin Benjamin –WR -28th overall

    That brings us to the current Panther era where the draft pick gets lower each time, but all these guys are hits so far. Most likely this Panther era will be the Newton-Kuechly era after those two guys right there. It is up to the Panthers front office to keep the momentum going by continuing to nail picks in the twenties of the first round. Next Thursday they will get a chance with 25th overall selection.