Ranking 5 biggest Carolina Panthers draft gems of the last decade

There have been a few hits from recent Carolina Panthers drafts.

Chuba Hubbard
Chuba Hubbard / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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4. Chuba Hubbard

  • Running Back | Oklahoma State Cowboys
  • No. 126 overall | 2021 NFL Draft

Chuba Hubbard became a running joke to Carolina Panthers fans initially. He was taken No. 126 overall out of Oklahoma State thanks in no small part to Matt Rhule's wife - or so the post-draft call to the player suggests. After an indifferent rookie campaign, many wondered if his time with the team would be short-lived.

Thankfully, Hubbard is made of stern stuff.

Even when he was relegated to No. 3 on the running back depth chart behind Christian McCaffrey and D'Onta Foreman in 2022, Hubbard kept plugging away. Once the All-Pro was traded to the San Francisco 49ers and Rhule became surplus to requirements, interim head coach Steve Wilks implemented a backfield committee approach in pursuit of setting a different tone offensively.

This was the opportunity Hubbard was waiting for. He looked sharp when given carries and formed a prolific tandem with Foreman. But instead of the Panthers moving forward with this duo, the new regime thought signing Miles Sanders in free agency was the better choice.

It didn't take long to figure out Sanders wasn't going to become a legitimate No. 1 option. Hubbard unseated him as the starter and became one of the few bright spots from an otherwise dismal 2023 campaign. The player deserves tremendous credit for turning things around and there could be even more to come under new head coach Dave Canales in a contract year.