The Biggest Draft Busts in Panthers Franchise History

Jason Hewitt

5. WR Kelvin Benjamin - Florida State

Benjamin's first season with the Panthers made it seem like he would be the opposite of a bust. With 73 receptions for 1,008 yards and nine touchdowns, things were looking great for the 2014 NFL first round draft pick. However, this was the best season of his career. Benjamin never recorded a season as productive as his rookie year. As a result, he was traded to the Bills during the 2017 NFL season. Benjamin's ill-advised comments on former Panthers quarterback Cam Newton following his trade only added fuel to the fire between himself and the organization. In hindsight, he simply wasn't worth the hype as a first rounder.

4. OT Jeff Otah - Pitt

Initially, Otah seemed like a great choice as the 19th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. The offensive tackle had 25 starts in his first two seasons with the Panthers, and many believed that he would be a cornerstone in Carolina's offensive line for years to come. However, Otah suffered from a knee injury that sidelined him for the entire 2010 season. After the injury, he played four more times before being cut. That was the last time he ever played in the NFL. 

3. WR Dwayne Jarrett - USC

Jarrett was picked in the second round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He had a pretty successful run with the Trojans, which led many to believe that he could be a great complement to the legendary Steve Smith. However, that wasn't the case at all. In four seasons in the league (all with the Panthers), he had a total of 35 receptions in 33 games. I think that says enough about his production. Bust. Next!

2. QB Jimmy Clausen - Notre Dame

There is a legitimate case for Clausen to get the number one spot on this list. Prior to the 2010 NFL Draft, the Jake Delhomme era ended in Carolina. Because of this, the Panthers needed to find its next franchise quarterback to throw darts to Steve Smith. After he was drafted in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft, Clausen was supposedly the future of the franchise. Sheesh, was that wrong. In his 2010 rookie campaign, Clausen had a 1-9 record in ten starts. 

Here are the abysmal stats from his playing time: 1,558 yards, three touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Luckily, the one silver lining from this experience was that Panthers drafted this guy named Cam Newton the year after Clausen. He turned out to be pretty good.

1. WR Rae Carruth - Colorado

Carruth is #1 on this list, not because of his production on the field, but because of the crimes he committed off the field. The 1997 first round draft pick spent nearly two decades in prison for hiring a hitman to kill his pregnant ex-girlfriend and unborn son in 1999. His ex-girlfriend sadly passed as a result of the plot, but Carruth's unborn son survived. 

Carruth will forever be a stain to the Panthers organization that will never wash away, which is why he deserves this spot. There is no worse crime that any member in the history of the franchise (arguably in the NFL as well) that comes close to what this man committed, and that is why he is the biggest draft bust in Panthers history. He is by far the most embarrassing individual to ever be associated with Carolina, and it is a shame that he was ever a part of this team in the first place.

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