The Carolina Panthers are coming off a down year, and with long odds to bring a title to the state next season, the upcoming campaign projects to be another outside of the NFL Playoffs.
But before you give up on the Panthers Super Bowl odds, there is some good that comes from the disappointment, as the Panthers selected Alabama QB Bryce Young first overall in the hopes he can turn the franchise's fortunes around.
Young isn’t the first QB the Panthers have taken first overall, as Cam Newton was the first pick in 2011 and had great success as a Panther. With Young officially in the fold and Newton no longer in the league, BetCarolina took a beat from sports betting in North Carolina and looked at the top draft picks in Panthers history.
While you won't find any current Panthers on this list, don't stray too far from our site as NFL training camps gets closer on the calendar.
Why? BetCarolina is your source for a dedicated Panthers playoff chances page.
No. 1: Cam Newton, 2011 1st overall - It’s hard to look at his time in Carolina as anything but a success, despite the way it ended. Newton won the MVP in 2015 while also making it all the way to the Super Bowl that year. While that uncompetitive loss to the Broncos came to define both the Newton and Ron Rivera era to an extent, Newton is still the Panthers' all-time leader in rushing TDs and is also the all-time NFL QB leader for rushing touchdowns, sitting 32 TDs ahead of Hall of Famer Steve Young, who is second.
No. 2: Julius Peppers, 2002 2nd overall - Peppers was a dominant defensive force for his prime and then some. His 97 sacks with Carolina is good for the all-time team lead by almost 30 and he made the Pro Bowl nine times over his career. Peppers also returned to the franchise to end his career after stints with the Bears and Packers, totaling 16 more sacks in his last two years.
No. 3: Steve Smith, 2001 74th overall - Smith played for 13 years in Carolina, making the Pro Bowl five times. His 14,731 receiving yards place him in the top ten all time and he was a beloved figure in Carolina for his career despite being a villain in most other cities.
No. 4: Luke Kuechly, 2012 9th overall - Kuechly battled concussions at the end of his time in the NFL, but when healthy was a dominant linebacker. He went to the Super Bowl with the team in 2015 and was an anchor on the defense until the concussions forced him into an early retirement at the age of 29. Had he been able to stay healthy for a few more seasons, the 7-time Pro Bowler and 2013 Defensive Player of the Year would have had a crack at the No. 1 spot on this list.
No. 5: Jordan Gross, 2003 8th overall - A model of consistency, Gross played 11 seasons for the Panthers before retiring in 2014. He played nine playoff games and started every one of his 167 regular season games, all at tackle.
No. 6: Christian McCaffrey, 2017 8th overall - If he hadn’t been traded to the 49ers this past year, McCaffery also had a chance to ascend to the top of this list. He had trouble staying healthy, but when on the field has been a top running back both on the ground and through the air. McCaffrey's ranking was hurt by playing for some poorly-constructed Panthers teams which failed to give him a capable quarterback to partner with, leading to the 49ers trade that helped bring on yet another Panthers rebuild.
No. 7: Jonathan Stewart, 2008 13th overall - Stewart is the Panthers all-time leading rusher with 7,318 yards and trails only Newton with 51 rushing touchdowns. The former Oregon Duck formed a great one-two punch with DeAngelo Williams for years.
No. 8: Thomas Davis, 2005 14th overall - Davis played 16 seasons in the NFL, retiring in 2021. He came back from three separate ACL tears, but when on the field was a spectacular linebacker for the Panthers for 14 of his seasons, including the 2015 Super Bowl appearance.
No. 9: Muhsin Muhammad, 1996 43rd overall - Despite not being a first round pick, Muhammad put up stats like he was, ranking second all-time for Carolina with 9,255 receiving yards and 50 touchdowns over two stints with the team.
No. 10: Mike Minter, 1997 56th overall - Minter was another second round gem, ranking fourth all time for interceptions with the franchise and led the defensive secondary for ten years.
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