This entry is intended to piggy back off of past blogs regarding draft gems and busts as well as open the discussion as to who has been, in the Panthers sixteen years of existance, the best pick in the history of the franchise. Note that this is regarding the first picks from each year. It should be noted that many of the picks from 2000 til now are still with the team although there may be some departures but their talent level and production cannot be denied. Since then the Panthers have struck gold, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Players like Dan Morgan, Julius Peppers, Chris Gamble, Thomas Davis and Jon Beason have been very productive while wearing the Panthers uniform. I believe Beason will unseat Peppers as the best overall defensive player in team history once his career is done. Interestingly enough, in the past ten years Carolina has only drafted three players on offense, focusing more on the defensive side of the ball. Perhaps, the offense will get an upgrade with the first pick of this year's draft. So, here we go....
Kerry Collins, QB - (1995) Drafted as the first pick of the franchise with the expectations of leading the Panthers to greatness. Alcohol and off field issues with teammates led to his departure in 1998. Team Stats: 8306 passing yards, 47 TDs and 54 INTs.
Tim Biakabutka, RB - (1996) Drafted 8th overall, Biakabutka never could stay healthy. He played in 50 games over six seasons putting up 3319 yards rushing and 17 TDs. Consider the following: He was the first running back to rush for two TDs of over 60 yards in one game.
Rae Carruth, WR - (1997) No need to go into details about this guy. Currently rotting in prison.
Jason Peter, DT - (1998) Drafted out of Nebraska, Peter had a short career in the pros. In three seasons, he had 83 tackles and 7.5 sacks. Injuries forced him to retire.
Chris Terry, OT - (1999) Terry had an uneventful career (and a short one at that) while in Carolina. Taken in the second round of that year's draft he had little to impact from a draft class that saw Carolina draft Mike Rucker afterwards.
Rashard Anderson, CB - (2000) Recorded only one INT in his tenure and was suspended by the NFL for violating substance abuse policy. He was released soon after.
Dan Morgan, MLB - (2001) Perhaps one of the best players taken first by Carolina, he would later be replaced by Jon Beason after a history of concussion problems and an ankle injury led to his release in 2007. One interesting note about this draft: Kris Jenkins and Steve Smith were both drafted after Morgan so this would be considered probably one of the Panthers best drafts.
Julius Peppers, DE - (2002) No argument about his talent and freakish ability after a stellar career with Carolina. Taken number two overall, he provided awesome play which garnered him multiple double teams but drew criticism for appearing to take plays off. Departed at the end of the 2009 season and signed with the Chicago Bears.
Jordan Gross, OT - (2003) Still a key cog of the offensive line, Gross has been named to three pro bowls and was selected as a first team All-Pro in 2008.
Chris Gamble, CB - (2004) Still a member of the Panthers defense, he was the first rookie in franchise history to start all 16 games. Since his rookie season he has picked off 24 passes.
Thomas Davis, OLB - (2005) A solid DB/LB from Georgia, Davis has played mainly as a weakside linebacker during his pro years. When healthy, he is a force to be reckoned with and having him in a linebacking corps alongside Jon Beason makes the defense scary at times.
DeAngelo Williams, RB - (2006) D-Will has set mark as being the best running back in franchise history. Joined Jonathan Stewart as being the first teammates to rush for 100 yards in a game. One of many players who is a free agent this year.
Jon Beason, MLB - (2007) Beast has left his mark on the league as being one of the best at his position. Three pro bowls first and second team All Pro honors and 540 tackles has him quite possibly being one of the best draft picks in franchise history.
Jonathan Stewart, RB - (2008) The second part of Double Trouble/Smash and Dash whatever you want to call them. Stewart has shown his worth as being an excellent complement to D-Will and when healthy can burn defenses. In 2009, the tandem set a record for being the first teammates to rush for over 1000 yards in a single season. If Williams leaves, he will be the feature back.
Everette Brown, DE - (2009) The jury is still out on the man who was suppose to replace Peppers. He made little impact in his rookie year but showed improvement in 2010.
Jimmy Clausen, QB - (2010) The product from Notre Dame looked like a blessing falling as far as he did in last year's draft. He only one one game and wasn't very productive under center. He had problems holding onto the ball after the snap and seemed to be easily pressured while in the pocket. Caught the ire of Steve Smith during the season when he apologized to Jon Beason for not getting the job done after one game. As it stands, no one really knows (except the Panthers front office and coaching staff) what his future looks like. If a QB is taken in this year's draft, consider Clausen done as a starter.
We will know later today what the future holds for Carolina. Judging by the picks made over the past decade I think its safe to assume we will be alright. Carolina hasn't really had a bust since 2000 though many could make an argument for either Brown or Clausen. So, in closing, what say you Panther Nation? Who do you feel was the team's best first pick?