- David Newton, ESPN Staff Writer
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Next on my worst of the first-round draft picks for the Carolina Panthers goes to a player whose brief career was plagued by knee injuries. Meet No. 4:
Jeff Otah, offensive tackle, first round, No. 19 overall, 2008 out of Pittsburgh: Otah was one of two players selected by Carolina in the first round of the 2008 draft. The other was running back Jonathan Stewart, the No. 13 overall pick whose career also has been plagued by injuries to the point he was given consideration for top five draft busts.The Panthers traded their second- and third-round selections in 2008, as well as their first-round pick in 2009, to Philadelphia for the right to select Otah with the 19th pick. It looked like a good move for a while as Otah started 25 games at right tackle in his first two seasons. He was a big part of DeAngelo Williams and Stewart rushing for more than 1,000 yards in 2009.
Then came the knee injuries. Otah missed the 2010 season and started only four games in 2011. The Panthers traded him to the New York Jets in 2012 for undisclosed draft picks contingent on him passing a physical. He failed two and was returned to Carolina, which then released him with Byron Bell and Garry Williams waiting in the wings.
Bell is now set to battle for the starting left tackle job vacated by recently-retired Jordan Gross. Williams is among several who will compete to replace Bell on the right side.
When healthy, the 6-foot-6, 330-pound Otah was among the best in the NFL. Because he couldn't stay healthy, he became a bust.
To make the pick appear worse, the Eagles traded Carolina's first-round selection in '09 and two lower round picks to Buffalo for tackle Jason Peters, who has been to the Pro Bowl four of the last five years.