We’ve had some very loved Carolina Panthers throughout the team’s history. Players like Sams Mills, Jake Delhomme, Steve Smith, John Kasey, and Cam Newton just to name a select few. That being said when I came across this list of the most loved defensive rookie players of the past 20 years I wasn’t surprised to see to Panthers. And it was exciting to see that a Carolina Panthers alum took the title of most loved defensive rookie.
This list was curated by Betway by taking the winners of the NFL’s prestigious “Defensive Rookie of the Year” winners from the last 20 years and looking at the online sentiment surrounding them. In the NFL Draft a quarterback, flashy running back or receiver are typically the sexiest picks for fans. But they saying is defense wins championships and I believe that to be true. When a team can draft a defensive rookie who can immediately make a positive impact that’s a huge advantage for the organization. When you think of some of the Panthers’ most popular defensive names who comes to mind first? Probably Luke Keuchly and Julius Peppers. Both were drafted by the Panthers ten years apart, and both made a huge impact on the franchise. They also of course both won the title of Defensive Rookie of the Year.
So it’s no surprise both of them made this list! Keep reading to see where each of the 20 most recent Rookie of the Year ranked on popularity and public sentiment. And of course which Carolina Panthers alum takes the title of most loved rookie? You can read the full Betway study here.
List: NFL Players Who Played College Football In North Carolina
Both college and NFL football are in full swing. And for the state of North Carolina, the two leagues couldn’t be trending in different directions. The Carolina Panthers are 0-2 and on an eight-game losing streak dating back to last season. The team hasn’t won a home game in over a year. Meanwhile, NC State, Wake Forest, UNC, and Duke are all 3-0 going into week four of the college football season. And while Appalachian State is sitting at 2-1 they have had one of the best upset wins of the season knocking off SEC opponent Texas A&M in College Station. With all that talent in the state, it’s no surprise that there are a ton of NFL players who played college football in North Carolina.
All the aforementioned schools are well represented with the four ACC schools each having double-digit players in the NFL. But we also have some alumni from East Carolina, Elon, Charlotte, Lenoir-Rhyne, and North Carolina A&T. If you’re counting that’s 10 schools represented at the highest level of football. That’s pretty awesome! Those players now play for 26 of the 32 NFL franchises including our own Carolina Panthers. Our first-round draft pick this year was Ikem Ekwanu out of NC State.
The Denver Broncos are the NFL team with the most players who played college football in North Carolina. There are 6 on the teams roster. This is coincidental as they are now my second NFL team now thanks to Russell Wilson and Bradley Chubb who both played at NC State. In addition to Chubb and Wilson, the Bronco have App receiver Jalen Virgil, UNC running back Javonte Williams, and Essang Bassey (safety) and Justin Strnad (linebacker) out of Wake Forest. The Cincinatti Bengals, Chicago Bears, and New York Giants each have 5 players representing the state.
So if you’ve given up on the Panthers, personally I’ll turn it on but will not be spending money on the team until they make some changes, maybe this list will give you a new vested interest in an NFL team. Hopefully one that will be representative of a few more wins. Below you’ll find a complete breakdown by university of each schools players that are currently on NFL rosters. This list is as of September 21st but keep in mind things are always changing.