Welcome to the bright side of the NFL Draft, as we re-visit the 10 best picks in Carolina Panthers history.
No. 2 best pick: QB Cam Newton (2011)
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, Cam Newton is in the conversation for greatest Panther in franchise history — undoubtedly its best quarterback.
In his first season, Newton set an NFL record for passing yards, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns by a rookie quarterback. His 14 rushing touchdowns were the second-most by a rookie at any position.
Since that season, Newton became Carolina’s all-time leading passer, the 2015 NFL MVP, a three-time Pro Bowler and First-Team All-Pro selection in 2015.
He is also arguably one of the league’s most recognizable figures and a constant presence in the Charlotte community, organizing Thanksgiving dinner giveaways, surprise Christmas donations and other charitable events throughout the city over the past eight years.
He’s rushed for more touchdowns than any other quarterback in NFL history, and more yards than all but one — Michael Vick. Newton is one rushing touchdown away from entering the top-50 of all time in that category.
The term “value pick” generally applies to impact players taken later in the draft than Newton, but there’s value any time a team finds a franchise quarterback — even at the very top of the first round.