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
Steve Smith Sr. / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Smith Sr. - Former Carolina Panthers WR

  • No. 74 overall (3rd round) | 2001 NFL Draft

There was only one choice here, right?

When most of the league wrote off Steve Smith Sr. due to height concerns, then-owner Jerry Richardson saw something in the wide receiver. This was enough for the Carolina Panthers to take him No. 74 overall in the 2001 NFL Draft. 

And the rest, as they say, is history. 

Smith might not boast the prototypical size of an NFL wideout, but there was a fire burning inside him that the Panthers benefited from enormously. He was competitive, made big plays at will, and brought a nastiness to the team that had been sorely lacking previously. 

The one-time Utah stud talked a big game and backed this up more often than not. Smith is responsible for some of the franchise's most memorable moments - the X-clown play to his iconic "ice up son" interview after schooling Aqib Talib and the unbelievable Triple Crown accomplishment in 2005 to name but a few. 

His time with the Panthers ended under a cloud when he signed for the Baltimore Ravens following a contract dispute. Smith made the Panthers pay when he came up against them, which was in keeping with the player's legendary determination between the lines. 

With 836 receptions for 12,197 receiving yards and 67 touchdowns throughout his Panthers career, Smith is the best wideout in franchise history and is on the team's Mount Rushmore of greatest-ever players. Something that should also come with a Pro Football Hall of Fame induction in the not-too-distant future.

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