In the lead up to the 2014 NFL Draft, we’re taking a look back and evaluating every previous Carolina Panthers draft class up until now. Being that the Panthers are such a young franchise, this task isn’t as daunting as it sounds. Today, we’re looking at the first three draft classes: 1995-1997
Kerry Collins: The Panthers first ever draft pick was a first team All-American his final year at Penn State, where he completed 2/3rds of his passes, threw 21 touchdowns and only seven interceptions en route to an undefeated season. He lasted just over three seasons in Carolina, in which he struggled, throwing 39 touchdowns and 49 picks. He was released after then coach Dom Capers believed he quit on the team. He finished the 1998 season with the New Orleans Saints. He went to the New York Giants in 1999, taking over in week 11 for then starter Kent Graham. He led the Giants to the Super Bowl in 2000. He was released by the Giants after the 2003 season, and signed with the Raiders. He had a 7-21 in two seasons with the Oakland Raiders before being cut and signed by the Tennessee Titans before the 2006 season. He continued his unspectacular play for two years, being in and out of the lineup as they tried to see if Vince Young was the guy, but after Young was unable to hold down the job, Collins led the team to a 13-3 record in 2008. The next two years Collins would be in and out of the lineup, and retired after the 2010 season. Of course, that retirement didn’t last, and he started three games for the Indianapolis Colts after Peyton Manning couldn’t play in 2011. He made two Pro Bowls (1996 and 2008), is one of only 14 quarterbacks to throw for 40,000 yards, his total of 40,922 is ahead of Joe Montana and Johnny Unitas.
Tyrone Poole: The Fort Valley State product was a solid corner for the Panthers for three years before being traded to the Colts. He played there for three years before signing with Denver before the 2001 season, and would spend the whole year on the reserve squad. He returned for the 2002 season, but would sign with New England prior to the 2003 season, and won two Super Bowls with the Patriots. He then bounced around between Oakland, Houston, Denver and Tennessee before calling it a career.
He finished his career with 482 tackles, 18 interceptions and six sacks.
Blake Brockermeyer: The All-American left tackle from the University of Texas was the third first round pick for the Panthers in the draft. He started for the Panthers for four seasons, before going to Chicago for three seasons, then ending his career in Denver for the 2002 and 2003 seasons. Injuries derailed his career, he only started 103 of 144 possible games in nine years, missed eight games.
Shawn King (not to be confused with Shaun King, the former Tampa QB): The Louisiana-Monroe defensive end was the first second round pick in Panthers history. He played 29 of 32 games his first two seasons, but in his third year his first marijuana suspension came down, banning him from the first six games of that season. He would only play in nine games in 1997. He missed the 1998 season after testing positive again, and would not play for the Panthers again. He played the 1999 season in Indianapolis, but was cut after one year and would not play in the NFL again. He finished his career with 57 tackles and 8.5 sacks.
Frank Garcia: A member of the 1991 national champion Washington Huskies, the Panthers took the center/guard in the fourth round of the 1995 draft. Would only miss five starts in five years with the Panthers. He played two years in St Louis and one year in Arizona after that.
Michael Senters: The Northwestern receiver never played a down in the NFL.
Andrew Peterson: The second Husky lineman selected only played four games in 1995, starting two. Only lasted one season in the NFL.
Steve Strahan: The Baylor DT never played a down in the NFL.
Jerry Colquitt: The Tennessee QB never played a down in the NFL.
Chad Cota: The Oregon defensive back, who was mostly a safety in the NFL, played three years for the Panthers. He started 18 games, appearing in all 48. Recorded seven picks, two sacks and 117 total tackles. He played one year in New Orleans, three years in with the Colts, and finished his career with the Rams in 2002.
Michael Reed: The Boston College corner played in three games in two years, and recorded two tackles.
Grade for the class: B-. This class produced a number of starters, and they had their moments, but left a lot of unfulfilled potential. They were part of the run to the NFC title game in 1996, but never had any sustained success in Carolina. A lot of their achievements in the NFL were after they left.
Tim Biakabutuka: The former Michigan standout was taken with the eight overall pick. He lasted six years in Carolina, in which he played in only 50 games, only started 35. He finished with 2530 career rushing yards and 14 touchdowns as his career was cut short by injuries and marked by an inability to stay on the field.
Muhsin Muhammad: This was the first really good Panthers pick, even though he was a second rounder. The former Spartan receiver played 11 years in Carolina in two stints with the Panthers. He made the Pro Bowl twice (1999 and 2004) and earned one first team all-pro selection (2004). He caught a career high 102 passes in 2000, had 1405 receiving yards in 2004 as well as 16 touchdowns, all career highs. Finished with 696 catches, 50 touchdowns and 9255 receiving yards as a Panther.
Winslow Oliver: The New Mexico product was taken in the third round, was used mostly as a return man throughout his career. Last three seasons in Carolina and played two more years with the Falcons. As a Panther he 110 punts for 1173 yards and one touchdown. He returned nine kickoffs for 203 yards. Finished with 183 rushing yards and no rushing touchdowns. His lone highlight as an Atlanta Falcon was a punt return for a touchdown in 1999.
J.C. Price: The Virginia Tech Hokie DT never played a down in the NFL.
Noberto Garrido: The USC tackle was taken 106th overall, spent four years in Carolina where he started 39 games, seeing action in 60 of them. Spent his last year in Arizona.
Emmanuel McDaniel: The East Carolina cornerback appeared in two games for Carolina his rookie year, assisting on one tackle. He went to Indianapolis his second season, appearing in three games there, then played three years for the Giants. He appeared in 39 games over three years for Big Blue, starting in five. Recorded six of his eight career interceptions and 40 tackles for them in their Super Bowl season in 2000. After three years with the Giants he played another year for Carolina, then played his last season in 2003 with the Cardinals. Finished with 110 career tackles.
Marquette Smith: Did not play in the NFL.
Scott Greene: The Michigan State running back/fullback played two years with the Panthers, where he carried the ball 45 times, all in 1997, rushing for one touchdown. Had two receiving touchdowns. Spent two years with the Colts, contributing nominally.
Donnell Baker: Did not play in the NFL.
Kerry Hicks: Did not play for the Panthers, appeared in two games for the Chiefs in 1997, recording two tackles.
Grade for the class- C-, only because of Muhammad. None of the other guys were any more than nominal contributors for the Panthers.
Rae Carruth: The former Colorado receiver is known mostly for his criminal case than his play on the field, and for good reason. He never amounted to much in three seasons in the NFL. Caught a total of 62 passes in three years, 44 his rookie year. Only scored 4 touchdowns, all in his rookie year.
Mike Minter: Was a good starter for a decade at safety. The second rounder from Nebraska started 11 games as a rookie, recording 3.5 sacks in addition to 69 total tackles. After his 1998 season was cut short by injury, he would only miss two games the rest of his career. He ended up with 17 interceptions, four of them returned for touchdowns. He finished with 11 sacks for his career, and had 785 total tackles.
Kinnon Tatum: The Notre Dame linebacker didn’t start a single game in two years, finished with 26 total tackles.
Tarek Saleh: The Wisconsin linebacker didn’t make a single NFL tackle, technically, he did have one sack in 1997 with the Panthers. Ironically ended up with 10 kick returns, more than any defensive stat he had.
Matt Finkes: Didn’t play a down for the Panthers. Appeared in eight games for the Jets in 1997, only lasted one year in the league.
Kris Mangum: The former Rebel was a great value pick for the Panthers. To get a decade of solid play out of a seventh round tight end is honestly not a bad deal. His numbers aren’t eye popping, but caught 151 passes and scored nine touchdowns. His best year was 2004 when he caught 34 passes for three scores.
Grade for the class- C. They missed on quite a few guys, but getting two decade long starters is nothing to sneeze at, even if they weren’t great players.