Carolina Panthers: Top 10 NFL Draft picks of all-time
4. Julius Peppers
Drafted in the first round of the 2002 draft (2nd overall), the legendary defensive end from North Carolina changed the landscape at the position thanks to his rare combination of strength and speed.
The Carolina Panthers swooped for Peppers after the Houston Texans took quarterback David Carr first overall and the rest is history. The supreme pass-rusher finished his career with 768 tackles, 199 sacks, 12 interceptions, 51 forced fumbles, and 21 fumble recoveries. He was named to the NFL’s All-Decade team on two consecutive occasions in the 2000s and 2010s.
3. Cam Newton
Drafted first overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Auburn quarterback took the league by storm and was the unquestioned starter from day one. In his rookie season, Newton earned Rookie of the Year and just kept building from there.
During the 2015 season in which the team appeared in Super Bowl 50, he was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. Newton has been a first-team All-Pro and has three Pro Bowl invitations on his resume.
His ability to pass and then run with the speed of a running back but the size of a defensive end made him a nightmare for defenses. Newton has 30,862 passing yards and 192 touchdowns, in addition to 5,064 rushing yards on 997 attempts and 60 touchdowns.
2. Luke Kuechly
Drafted in the first round of the 2012 draft (9th overall), the dominant linebacker from Boston College changed the way players at the position approach the game.
Kuechly would drive offensive players crazy when he often knew what play they were going to run and where the ball was going prior to the snap. He has won several league awards which are Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013, Defensive Player of the Year in 2014 and the Art Rooney award in 2018.
He retired at the end of the 2019 season but has five first-team All-Pro selections as well as an invitation to the Pro Bowl every season he has been in the league.
Kuechly finished his career with 1,153 tackles, 14.5 sacks, 21 interceptions, seven forced fumbles, and nine fumble recoveries during phenomenal career.