As the Panthers prepare for the 19th draft in team history next week, it is worth looking back at the team’s first 18 tries at raising their own crops of young players. There have been a couple of bumper crops and far more mediocre ones.
THE FIVE BEST
Notable players: LB Dan Morgan, DT Kris Jenkins, WR Steve Smith, QB Chris Weinke. Smith is the best and most electric player in team history. Jenkins and Morgan were both Pro Bowlers while in their prime. Smith, Jenkins and Morgan contributed in a major way to the Panthers’ Super Bowl run of 2003.
Notable players: DE Julius Peppers, RB DeShaun Foster, LB Will Witherspoon, CB Dante Wesley. Not only was Peppers a beast from the beginning and a possible future hall of famer, but the next three players in the draft also made big contributions for several years.
Notable players: LB Jon Beason, C Ryan Kalil, DE Charles Johnson, WR Dwayne Jarrett. Kalil and Beason have both made multiple Pro Bowls, although each suffered a major injury in 2012. Johnson took a few years to develop but has worked his way up to become one of the NFL’s top 10-15 pass rushers. Jarrett (a second-rounder) was a huge bust who finished his Panther career with more DWI arrests (two) than touchdowns (one).
Notable players: RB DeAngelo Williams, CB Richard Marshall, LB James Anderson, TE Jeff King. Williams is the Panthers’ all-time leading rusher in numerous categories. Anderson and King both were solid starters and Marshall was a decent cornerback.
Notable players: QB Cam Newton, DTs Terrell McClain and Sione Fua, WR Kealoha Pilares. Why rank the draft where the Panthers acquired their franchise quarterback as only their fifth-best overall? Because other than Newton, you can’t name another significant player that came from it.
THE FIVE WORST
Notable players: DE Jason Peter, DE Chuck Wiley, DT Mitch Marrow, WR Donald Hayes. Peter was an undersized first-round bust at defensive end at No.14 overall — the same first-round pick that the Panthers hold for 2013. Wiley, a defensive end, once managed to start an entire season at Carolina without recording a single sack, which is difficult to do.
Notable players: WR Rae Carruth, S Mike Minter, TE Kris Mangum. Carruth was convicted in 2001 of conspiring to murder Cherica Adams, who was pregnant with his unborn son. He is still in jail, serving a sentence of nearly 19 years.
Notable players: DE Everette Brown, S Sherrod Martin, DT Corvey Irvin, CB Captain Munnerlyn. Brown (2nd) and Irvin (3rd) were major busts. Martin and Munnerlyn have been decent defensive backfield starters.
Notable players: DB Rashard Anderson, S Deon Grant, OL Leander Jordan and DL Alvin McKinley. You probably don’t remember any of these guys but Grant, who was a good player at No.57 overall.
Notable players: LB Thomas Davis, RB Eric Shelton, OG Evan Mathis, OL Geoff Hangartner. Davis was a gem and Hangartner is solid, but the Panthers got little else.