Who are the best Receivers in Panthers history? For a team that has always been run first, you would expect to have a slim group from which to choose. You would be correct. In the seventeen year history of the Carolina Panthers, only three times has a Panther been selected as one of the two All Pro Wide Receivers. As far as Pro Bowl appearances, the Panthers have fared a little better with twelve appearances, but that is from only three players (and one of those is a tight end).
After the jump, I will share my top three and a couple of honorable mentions. If you cannot guess who is number one, please get out from under that rock (and notice my CSR username).
Number 1: The best receiver ever for the Carolina Panthers is... drum roll please… Superman himself, Steve Smith. Wow, the suspense was killing me.
After spending two years at Santa Monica Junior College (with fellow receiver Chad Ochocinco), Steve played two years at the University of Utah. Drafted #74 in the third round, sports Illustrated slammed the Panthers for wasting a high pick on a kick returner. It did not take long to end the criticism.
Smitty was first team all pro and made the Pro Bowl as a rookie as a kick and punt returner (so I guess we have only had 1 All Pro and 11 Pro Bowl receivers, not the 2 and 12 with which we are credited). He became a starter in his second year, and was a pivotal piece of our Super Bowl 2003 team catching the 69 yard touchdown pass in double overtime to beat the defending champion Rams.
Smitty was an All Pro Receiver in 2005. He made the Pro Bowl in 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2011. The highlights are endless. In the Playoff loss to Seattle, the Seahawks triple teamed him, so he asked to be put in to return punts. He returned it to the end zone! (Called back, but whatever). In the same playoffs, he had humiliated the Giants and the Bears.
With the emergence of Cam Newton at Quarterback, we may just get a few more great years of Smitty domination.
Number 2: Do you remember the Panthers in the 90s? We had a dominant receiver. He would catch every ball thrown in his direction. He did over and over again with double and triple coverage. Everyone in the league new the Panthers were going to throw him the ball on third down, and no one could stop him. The second best receiver in Panther’s history was a tight end, Wesley Walls.
It took Wesley five years in San Francisco and two more in New Orleans to get his opportunity. (He did get a super bowl ring in San Francisco.) But in 1996, the panthers made one fantastic free agent acquisition. Wesley walls went from backup to perennial pro bowler after signing with the Panthers.
Wesley made the Pro Bowl his first four years in Charlotte, and once more before leaving after seven years for his 15th and final year in Green Bay. I just wish his career had been at the same time as Steve Smith.
Number 3: There is really only one other receiver that I can call put on the list, Muhsin Muhammad. Moose was a second round pick of the Panthers in 1996. In his third year, Moose made it to the starting lineup. However, it was not until George Seifert became Head Coach, that Moose really exploded with two 1000 yard seasons. Moose was a Pro Bowler in 1999 and again in 2004 when Smitty was on IR.
Moose was an excellent blocking wide receiver, had good speed, and after a first few years, finally removed the butter.
Mark Carrier: Carrier ended his career with four years in Carolina. The first two were pretty good, but he never broke 1000 yards in Charlotte.
Ricky Proehl: Ricky did not have a lot of catches, not many yards, not many big games, but when we needed a huge play in a critical moment, Ricky was there. Without him, we would not have made it to the Superbowl. If he had gotten to Carolina sooner, we may have had four names for me to list.
Rocket Ismael: The Rocket came to Charlotte from the Raiders and successfully moved from return man to receiver. In his last year here, he broke into the starting lineup and broke 1000 yards (1998).
Willie Green: I loved Willie Green. He was my favorite player (after Mills) until Walls got here. Seventh all time in receiving yards, Willie was only here two years. He still leads the franchise in yards per reception because Willie was fast. He had a penchant for the big play. Ok, he does not really belong on the list, but it is my list and he is staying.
What is your list?