Top Five, All-Time Wide Receivers of the Carolina Panthers


I wrote this piece a while back on another site, but it was a pretty well-researched article, and since things do have a tendancy to get passed over with the large expanse of information on the internet, I wanted to share this piece with everyone one more time.

Please keep in mind that there will not be any tight ends mentioned throughout this article, as this is specifically for “wide receivers,” not just the generalized “receiver.” Otherwise, tight ends Wesley Walls and Chris Mangum would most certainly be included.

This past season marks the completion of Carolina’s 15th year as an NFL franchise. In that time, there have been a lot of talented athletes who were drafted, acquired via trade, or through free agency to wear a Panthers uniform.

While we’ve all been told statistics are for losers, I do use the aid of stats at times. While I understand and agree that stats don’t tell the whole story, they can be of use when used in some situations, such as this one.

Today I (re-)present the Panthers’ top five, all-time wide receivers and three honorable mentions.

No. 5: Raghib “Rocket” Ismail, 1996-1998

Raghib Ismail, a.k.a. “Rocket” Ismail, starts the list at No. 5 because of his speed on the football field.

Ismail was acquired by the Panthers for a fifth-round pick to the Oakland Raiders in 1996.

As a Panther, Ismail recorded 117 receptions for 1,657 yards, for an average of 14.2 yards after catch (YAC), and 10 touchdowns.

Receiver wasn’t the only job assigned Ismail. He was also utilized at the running back position, being that he had those skills as well.

Also used as a running back, Ismail recorded 15 carries for 154 yards; an average of 10.7 yards per carry, and a touchdown. He also recorded seven, 100+ yard games of the 42 he participated.

Ismail was named the starting receiver in 22 games.

No. 4: Donald Hayes, 1998-2001

Donald Hayes was drafted by the Panthers in the fourth-round of the 1998 draft out of the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

In his four-year stint with the Panthers, Hayes had only 132 catches for 1,855 yards; an average of 14.1 YAC. He also scored seven touchdowns, and had a pair of 100+ yard games.

Out of the 51 games he participated, Hayes was the starter in 31.

No. 3: Mark Carrier, 1995-1998

Mark Carrier was selected by the Panthers in the 1995 NFL Expansion Draft.

As of 2008, Carrier still ranks fourth on the Panthers all-time receiving list with 176 catches for 2,547 yards; an average of 14.5 YAC and 13 touchdowns.

Out of the 56 games Carrier played in, he was named the starter in 36. He also has five 100+ yard games.

Fun Fact: On Sept. 1, 1996, Carrier scored the first NFL points and touchdown in North Carolina (games were played at Clemson University in South Carolina in 1995).

No. 2: Muhsin “Moose” Muhammad, 1996-2004; 2008-Present

Muhsin Muhammad, affectionately referred to as “Moose” among Panthers fans, was drafted by the Panthers in the second-round of the 1996 NFL Draft, with the 43rd overall pick.

Muhammad is a big-bodied receiver who has always had decent speed, great hands, and great control over his body. He is also known for his run-blocking receiving fake-outs against opposing defenses.

In Moose’s long-tenured career as a Panther, there was a three-year span in which he played for the Chicago Bears (2005-2007), but the Bears released him in 2008 and he returned to play in Carolina.

In his 11-year career with the Panthers, Muhammad has amassed 696 catches for 9,255 yards; an average of 13.3 YAC and 50 touchdowns.

He also boasts 27-100+ yard game. Out of 141 games Moose has participated, he has been named the starter 128 times.

Muhammad is also a two-time Pro Bowl selection and a one-time All-Pro selection.

No. 1: Steve “No. 89” Smith, 2001-Present

What can be said of Steve Smith? A lot of things. Only two times has he been under media criticism for not getting along with a couple teammates…I know, calling a couple sucker-punches “not getting along” is a bit of an understatement, but Smitty has contributed more to the team in a positive manner than any receiver currently in the NFL.

Smith is a very special player with his own place in Carolina Panthers history and Panthers fans’ hearts.

At 5’9″, Smith is one of the smallest receivers in the league. Don’t let his size fool you, however. His passion for the game could be considered that of a lion’s heart, and he’s as fast and ferocious as a panther.

This cat knows how to use his body, feet, and has awesome hands.

In 2001, the Panthers drafted Smith in the third-round with the 77th overall pick.

Fun Fact: A Sports Illustrated draft expert said that the Panthers wasted their third-round pick on a player who would never amount to more than a punt returner.

In his time as a Panther, Smith has totaled 623 catches for 8,330 yards; an average of 13.4 YAC. He has scored 50 receiving touchdowns, and has 32-100+ yard games on his resume.

Smith has also been used as a ball carrier. He has 47 carries for 295 yards; averaging 6.3 yards per carry and two touchdowns.

Of the 121 games Smith has played in, he has been the starting receiver in 96 games.

Smith is a four-time Pro Bowl selection, he’s been named Co-NFL Comeback Player of the Year, and earned the NFL’s Receiving Triple-Crown in 2005 when he led the league with 103 receptions, 1,563 yards, and 12 touchdowns.

While Smith might feel he’s “not an asset,” there are many of us who would beg to differ.

Honorable Mentions

Willie Green, 1995-1996

During his two-season stint with the Panthers, Willie Green contributed 93 catches for 1,496 yards; an average of 16.1 YAC, and nine touchdowns.  Of the 31 games Green participated, he was named the starter 17 times.

Ricky Proehl, 2003-2005

As a Panther, Ricky Proehl was another piece of the puzzle that helped the Panthers get to their first Super Bowl in 2004.

During his tenure in Carolina, Proehl had 86 catches for 1,327 yards; an average of 15.5 YAC, and eight touchdowns. Of the 48 games Proehl participated in, he started five times.

Patrick Jeffers, 1999-2001

Patrick Jeffers played the best year of his career in 1999 with the Panthers. He had 63 catches for 1,082 yards, and 12 touchdowns in one season.

Overall, Jeffers had 77 catches for 1,209 yards; an average of 13.2 YAC, and 12 touchdowns. In his three season as a Panther, Jeffers was named a starter in 10 games of the 24 he participated.

So there it is. That’s it. My top-five Panthers all-time wide receivers and three honorable mentions. I know some readers may not agree with the order or the names within, but you are welcome to submit your top-five in any order with different names even, in the comments section below.

Have a great Monday!