Despite a horrendous draft, the Panthers still managed to bounce back and make an NFC Championship appearance in 2005. With all signs pointing in a positive direction, Carolina entered the 2006 draft in a similar situation to the year before, with four picks in the first 100 selections.
In the first round, Carolina grabbed a Pro Bowl running back that remains on the team to this day in DeAngelo Williams. In addition to bringing in one of best dreads/mustache/beard combos in NFL history, Williams ran for a franchise record 1,515 yards in 2008 after not contributing much in his first two years in the league. Williams has had an up and down career, from looking like a Top-5 running back to an average at best back at times, but you can’t ignore the fact that he’s never finished a season with less than 4.1 yards per carry (consider the “average NFL running back” should average four yards per carry), and has finished with five yards per carry in half of his career seasons.
Unlike in 2005, Carolina followed up a good first round pick with a solid second round pick, this time on cornerback Richard Marshall. Marshall played in Carolina for five years, starting two of them but spent most of his time as a nickelback. He picked off fourteen passes over that time frame. In the third round, the Panthers grabbed linebacker James Anderson, who started with Davis for years to form a great linebacker combo. Anderson started half of the games in 2009 and made a big impression, which led to him starting in 2010-2012, averaging 92 tackles per season. On the next pick, Carolina pulled a 2005 and selected tackle Rashad Butler, who never started a game for the team.
In the later rounds, fourth round safety Nate Salley never became anything besides a marginal special teams player, and seventh round defensive end Stanley McClover’s biggest career highlight is admitting to being paid to play collegiate football while at Auburn. The team did make a good selection on anther guard in Will Montgomery, who currently has 63 career starts. Unfortunately, just like Evan Mathis, Montgomery never really made an impact for Carolina, only starting seven games before being released.
The Panthers did make a solid fifth round pick on tight end Jeff King, who stayed on the team for five years and started 62 games. King was never much of a receiving threat, but was a reliable blocker for some teams that were run-first anyway.
Reasoning: Carolina found a franchise running back in DeAngelo Williams, and some key contributors in James Anderson, Richard Marshall, and Jeff King. This was a pretty good draft by Carolina, but they missed wide left on another third round pick and didn’t get as much as you want out of their second rounder for an “A” grade.