Ranking the 5 biggest NFL Draft steals in Carolina Panthers franchise history

Ryan Kalil
Ryan Kalil / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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Carolina Panthers
Charles Johnson / Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Johnson - Former Carolina Panthers DE

  • No. 83 overall (3rd round) | 2007 NFL Draft

It was hard to predict what Charles Johnson would become when the Carolina Panthers brought him into the fold. The former third-round selection was seen as a development project with upside at the time, but what came next was far more than anyone envisaged from the defensive end.

Johnson took his time to settle as a rookie, which was probably the best thing for his long-term aspirations at the next level. This bedding-in period was followed by a decade of outstanding production on Carolina's defensive front that resulted in 67.5 sacks, 117 quarterback hits, 75 tackles for loss, 17 forced fumbles, 323 tackles, and 25 passes defended. 

While Johnson never made a Pro Bowl, that does not detract from what an outstanding presence on and off the field he became in Carolina. His leadership was unquestioned and he was beloved by the fanbase, so the Panthers got more than they bargained for where the one-time Georgia star was concerned. 

How the Panthers could use someone with Johnson's productivity opposite Brian Burns coming off the edge these days. The pass rush was sorely lacking another capable figure during the 2022 campaign after Haason Reddick departed in free agency, which is something those in power must address as a matter of urgency before or during the 2023 NFL Draft.