10 biggest Carolina Panthers draft steals of the last decade

(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) Trai Turner
(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) Trai Turner /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /

Number 6

Brian Burns – Carolina Panthers DE

  • 1st round (No. 16 overall) – 2019

It’s hard to look at someone who was taken No. 16 overall as a draft steal. However, Brian Burns is everything the Carolina Panthers hoped he would be and more.

The defensive end quickly emerged as one of the NFL’s most promising young pass-rushers in his sophomore year, demonstrating the elite explosiveness and work ethic that saw him evolve from a situational edge rusher into a prolific three-down defensive lineman.

Burns heads into the 2021 campaign with Pro Bowl ambitions and there should be plenty more space to work in thanks to the signings of Haason Reddick and Morgan Fox in free agency.

Number 5

Josh Norman – CB

  • 5th round (No. 143 overall) – 2012

Nobody expected Josh Norman to make the sort of impression he did for the Panthers. Cornerbacks struggle to adapt at the best of times and this bears more significance the lower down you take them, so for the former Coastal Carolina standout to slot in so seamlessly makes him a lock for this list.

Norman was an absolute revelation in 2015 to help Carolina reach Super Bowl 50, which resulted in the one and only All-Pro selection of his career. He opted to sign a big-money deal with the Washington Football Team just a few short months after, which didn’t go according to plan.

His time with the Buffalo Bills was more successful. But Norman is still looking for a new place to call home on the free-agent scrapheap.

Number 4

D.J. Moore – Carolina Panthers WR

  • 1st round (No. 24 overall) – 2018

D.J. Moore was the first wide receiver taken in the 2018 NFL Draft. But he had to wait until pick No. 24 before he heard his name called. There are probably more than a few teams looking at his outstanding production over the last two seasons with a sense of what might have been, but their loss was the Panthers’ gain.

Moore has everything one looks for in a No. 1 receiver. He now has back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons under his belt despite some chemistry issues with Teddy Bridgewater in 2020, so if the wideout can hit the ground running with new signal-caller Sam Darnold, then it could result in some career numbers next time around.

Carolina is going to pick up Moore’s fifth-year option after the NFL Draft. But they would be wise to tie him down to a multi-year contract extension at the earliest possible opportunity.