Let me take you all the way back to the 2007 NFL Draft. It's our 2nd pick in the NFL Draft. Since Moose was still in Chicago, we only had two capable receivers back then, Steve Smith and an elderly veteran in Keyshaun Johnson playing football for us.
We had the choice of two great receivers from USC: Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett.
Dwayne Jarrett had left USC after his 3rd season and was projected as a 1st rounder. Due to his lack of speed in the 40 yard dash ((4.67 with very slow acceleration)), his knack for drops, and a reported playing style similar to Mike Williams, ((10th overall round pick in 2005 by the Lions and a epic fail)) his stock dropped to a late 2nd round projection. He had his best year as a Sophomore, recording 91 catches for 1,274 yards and 16 touchdowns, enough for an All American spot and a Biletnikoff award finalist. Though he struggled with injuries as a Junior, it was enough to get him All American honors and send him off to the draft as a Junior.
Steve Smith didn't have as good a showing as Dwayne Jarrett did during his career with USC, but he had three solid years in 04, 05, and 06 where his numbers continued to climb. He graduated at USC as a Senior in 2006 at the peak of his game, where he posted 71 receptions for 1083 yards and 9 touchdowns in his senior year and qualified for all kinds of awards and an All-American spot. He posted a 4.44 40 time at the NFL Draft, and displayed good hands in the draft. However, he didn't have the height and the elite jump that Dwayne Jarrett had, and with a couple of other wideouts ahead of him he was projected somewhere in the middle of the second round in the draft.
Bottom line, at #45 overall the Panthers selected Dwayne Jarrett to be the eventual successor for Moose and Keyshawn Johnson. Keyshawn went into a rant on how he would be Jarrett's mentor, but was fired 3 days later. That was kind of funny, but I digress from the main point.
Today, the differences between these two wideouts are as clear as night and day. Jarrett went on to not do anything his rookie year, while Steve Smith went and won a Super Bowl with the Giants. Dwayne Jarrett has yet to secure a starting job, while Steve Smith leads the league in yards and receptions this year. One receiver has made the most of his talent, while the other receiver gets arrested for DUI.
Interesting isn't it?
I'll never forget the day that I was watching the NFL Draft. The Panthers were on the clock and Steve Smith was on the board. I thought to myself, 'Here we have a unique chance to have two players with the same name at the same position on our team. Steve Smith and Steve Smith. One of the greatest receivers in the league has freaking spawned a manchild.' I lifted up my 2 liter of Dr. Pepper in glee, hoping that the Panthers would make this dream a reality.
But alas, the Panthers didn't pick him and we're stuck where we are today. The question I have to ask you guys is this. What if we did? Would the Panthers be better off if Steve Smith was on our roster? Would it have helped free up the Steve Smith on the other side of the field? Would it have helped the Panthers make it to the playoffs in 07? Would his presence have been the little push we needed to beat Dallas the other day?