This sad train keeps on rolling, as we look into the annals of Panthers' history to put together the worst team possible. Thus far we've selected the team's quarterback, defensive ends, and wide receivers -- now we look at the defensive tackle position.
There are a lot of deserving candidates, so for purposes of ease we're splitting this into the under tackle and nose tackle. Today we're looking at the former. Players who should use their burst off the line of scrimmage to attack the center of the field, and reliably stopped the run when asked -- these players did none of these things.
Statistics in Carolina: 12 games (12 starts), 13 tackles, 1 sack
The first entrant from the 2011 draft, McClain has the odious duty of being remembered for how terrible he was. The Panthers have had luck in past third rounds, selecting Charles Johnson and Brandon LaFell -- both entrenched starters. It was hoped that McClain could follow in this trend, but alas.
He had no real pass rush out of USF, and despite being lauded for his strong base, and run-stopping ability -- he showed neither. Compounding these issues was the fact he didn't show much work ethic, and had conditioning problems.
Statistics in Carolina: 64 games (56 starts), 141 tackles, 15.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles
On its surface you'd think Gilbert doesn't belong on this list. After all, he does have 15.5 sacks and over 100 tackles. However, you'd be hard pressed to find a single player who damaged this organization more than Gilbert -- even if it wasn't his fault.
The methodology was simple: Dom Capers needed a defensive tackle, Gilbert was still on the right side of 30, and was a three-time Pro Bowler. However, Capers stupidity in making the trade was beyond the pale.
Gilbert sat out the entire 1997 due to a contract dispute, and before that was coming one off his worst seasons in 1996 -- where he finished with 3.0 sacks. Normally this would make it a buyer's market, especially when it was clear Gilbert would leave Washington.
In all his wisdom Capers found a way to overpay -- to unparalleled levels. Carolina gave up two first-round picks. Here's a short list of players who could have wound up in Charlotte had Capers kept the picks:
So, so stupid.
Career statistics in Carolina: 26 games (13 starts), 37 tackles, 2.0 sacks
Not much should have been expected out of Nick Hayden when he was selected in the 6th round, but John Fox saw something, for some reason. Making this list is predicated solely on his 2010 season -- where Hayden started 10 games and amassed 20 tackles and 1.0 sack.
Most Panthers fans have moved past the lame duck year of 2010, but it's decisions like starting Hayden consistently that give me pause when it comes to remembering John Fox's legacy here. The players tried for their head coach, but Fox didn't care -- and it showed in the players he started.
His ineptitude isn't as high as McClain, and didn't hurt the team as much as Gilbert -- but he belongs on the list.