Carolina Panthers

No. 5 worst NFL Draft pick in Panthers history: Bruce Nelson

Who Panthers should pick in this year’s draft according to Panthers beat reporter, Jourdan Rodrigue

Watch this Panthers draft preview with Panthers beat reporter Jourdan Rodrigue sharing what the team needs and who to watch for.
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Watch this Panthers draft preview with Panthers beat reporter Jourdan Rodrigue sharing what the team needs and who to watch for.

Welcome to the dark side of the NFL Draft, as we revisit the 10 worst picks in Carolina Panthers history.

No. 5 worst pick: OG Bruce Nelson (2003)

Panthers general manager Marty Hurney addressed his team’s offensive line with Carolina’s first two picks during the 2003 NFL Draft, and he nailed his first-round choice with All-Pro tackle Jordan Gross.

But selecting Iowa guard Bruce Nelson in the second round (No. 50 overall) proved otherwise.

Hurney traded back in the second round for the No. 50 and No. 120 overall picks, giving the Panthers the No. 108, No. 119 and No. 120 selections in the fourth round. He then packaged the No. 108 and No. 120 picks to move into the third round to draft cornerback Ricky Manning.

Manning had a respectable career, but it wasn’t better than Asante Samuel’s, who was drafted with that No. 120 pick. Neither was safety Colin Branch’s, who the Panthers took at No. 119.

Had Carolina kept its original No. 45 pick, it could have selected cornerback Drayton Florence or linebacker Kawika Mitchell, both of whom would have filled a team need and both of whom finished their careers with more career starts than Nelson had games played.

In fact, of the first 100 players drafted in 2003, only five players played fewer games than Nelson’s 15. He did earn one start as a rookie in Super Bowl XXXVIII, but retired after three hip surgeries in two years.

Linebacker Lance Briggs and tight end Jason Witten were also both on the board when the Panthers selected Nelson, leaving the team’s 2003 draft with a whole lot of “what ifs.”

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Marcel Louis-Jacques covers the Carolina Panthers for the Charlotte Observer, keeping you on top of Panthers news both on the field and behind the scenes. He is a 2014 graduate of Arizona State University and grew up in Sacramento, California.
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