I'm doing a series of posts that examines each Panther draft class starting from the inaugural season and puts forth a fan poll judging the biggest bust or brightest gem of each draft class. We are up to 1997 and the biggest bust of the class. This is another that might be easy:
1 (27) WR Rae Carruth
Carruth played parts of three seasons with the Panthers, losing most of 1998 season to a broken foot. He finished his career with the Panthers with 62 receptions for 804 yards and 4 TDs. Of course he is best known for being found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in the 1999 drive by shooting of his pregnant girlfriend who later died (though the baby lived). Carruth remains in jail with a scheduled release of October 2018.
3 (87) LB Kinnon Tatum
Tatum last two seasons and recorded zero stats during the regular season. I did manage to find this analysis of the Panthers 1997 draft though its undated:
This one may be a reach. Tatum is 5-11 1/2 and 222 pounds -- quite small for a linebacker. But the Panthers have already had success with one undersized linebacker in Sam Mills and feel that Tatum can compensate for his lack of size with athleticism. He will start out in training camp as a backup to Micheal Barrow at inside linebacker.
I think its safe to say it was a reach...needed another option for this poll I'll go one more pick though I had previously only considered picks in the first three rounds for the 'bust' list.
4 (122) LB/DE Tarek Saleh
From the same link above:
Sounds like a winner. The Panthers hope that Saleh can be groomed to replace Kevin Greene in a few years. As an undersized defensive end (242 pounds), Saleh led the Big Ten in sacks with 14 this past season and had 12 the year before. He wouldn't work in a 4-3 defense, but in a 3-4 he could be very good.
Can you imagine having a 242 LB DE in this day and age? Saleh only lasted two seasons in Carolina, getting one start and playing in only 14 games. He has no recorded stats. Sorry but sounds more like a 'wiener' than a winner.
So there are our three selection for the Panthers 1997 draft bust...make your selection.
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