When you study the Panthers' first 18 drafts -- as I did for this column on the best and worst years in that grouping -- you get a better handle on why the team has had only four winning seasons in all that time, none of them consecutively.
Simply put, the Panthers haven't drafted well enough. In their typical draft -- one that didn't make either the "five best" or "five worst" of my list -- they would get one very good player, one decent player and not much else. In an NFL where player replenishment is huge -- given you need 22 starters and there are always injuries slicing into your numbers -- that just doesn't cut it.
Take 2003, for instance. It wasn't on either one of my "best" or "worst" lists. It was fairly typical. The Panthers got offensive tackle Jordan Gross at No.1, and he's been a force for a decade. Ricky Manning Jr. was a third-round pick -- he had four interceptions in the 2003 playoffs and then didn't do a lot else.
But Bruce Nelson (2nd)? Mike Siedman (3rd)? Colin Branch, Kindal Moorehead, Walter Young and Casey Moore?
It just wasn't enough, just like so many other Panther drafts. Former GM Marty Hurney got a lot of base hits with his No.1 picks and struck out a lot of times beyond the first round. Before that, the Panthers didn't even get hits at No.1 (Kerry Collins, Tshimanga Biakabutuka, Jason Peter, Rashard Anderson, Rae Carruth, etc.) Those are the sorts of drafts that put you at 7-9 -- the Panthers' most common record, as they have posted it seven times (including in 2012) in their 18-year history. It will be very interesting to see if new GM Dave Gettleman can upgrade this trend in the April 25-27 draft coming up. Again, here's the best/worst column link -- see if you agree with my picks.
11 months ago