The 10 best Panthers draft choices post-2000

Steve Smith played 13 seasons for the Panthers. [Image Source: Flickr | Guy Harbert]
Steve Smith played 13 seasons for the Panthers. [Image Source: Flickr | Guy Harbert]

Carolina has had much success in recent drafts as evidenced by the players who couldn’t crack the stacked list.

NFL

After looking at the best recent draft picks for teams that occupy the first 15 selections in April’s draft, it’s time to look at the Panthers who have the 16th pick. Ryan Wilson, of CBS Sports, has them selecting offensive tackle Jonah Williams, out of Alabama, with that pick in his latest mock draft.

The Panthers have made the playoffs seven times, since 2000, including two trips to the Super Bowl. Winning the NFC twice couldn’t have happened without all the success Carolina has enjoyed in the draft. This list is so loaded that players such as Kawann Short, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Josh Norman, and Christian McCaffrey (although he will likely make the cut with a couple more good seasons) were unable to crack it.

Note: Only time with the Panthers is considered for this list. Where they were drafted makes a difference - meaning this isn’t exactly a "top-ten players drafted by Carolina since 2000" list. Some late-round picks that didn’t quite make the list but had solid careers with the team include Geoff Hangartner (fifth round, 2005), Captain Munnerlyn (seventh round, 2009), Greg Hardy (sixth round, 2010), and Josh Norman (fifth round, 2012).

1

Steve Smith, WR - 3rd round, 74th overall (2001); time with Panthers: 2001-2013

Smith easily holds team records with 836 catches for 12,197 yards and 67 touchdowns in his 13 years with the Panthers. Named a Pro Bowler five times with the team, he led the NFL with 103 receptions, 1,563 receiving yards, and 12 receiving touchdowns in 2005.

2

Julius Peppers, DE - 1st round, 2nd overall (2002); time with Panthers: 2002-2009, 2017-2018

Announcing his retirement after the 2018 season, Peppers ranks fifth all-time with 159.5 career sacks (97 of which as a member of the Panthers). The superb pass-rusher finished with at least 10.5 sacks in seven of his 10 years with Carolina.

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