Carolina Panthers: Franchise player

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
Readers' pick: Steve Smith, WR

Steve Smith is the greatest player in the history of the Carolina Panthers, according to voting by fans. I have no desire to argue that because nobody else even belongs in the conversation.

Forget the off-field stuff with Smith for a moment. When it comes to what he's done on the field, no one else is remotely close. I also chose Smith No. 1 when I wrote about the greatest players in Carolina history back in July.

But I will disagree with the order of the rest of the top five in the fan voting. Julius Peppers is No. 2, John Kasay No. 3, Jake Delhomme No. 4 and Wesley Walls No. 5.

I think the Peppers' ranking is way too high. Yes, he's been very good at times. But he's also been very ordinary and only had 2 ½ sacks last year when the team really needed him to step up. I also think it's a bit of a stretch to put Kasay at No. 3. That's no knock on Kasay. He's a good kicker, a good guy and he's been reliable for a long time. But, even a team that's only been around since 1995, shouldn't have a kicker as one of its top five players.

No argument here on Delhomme. But I will argue that putting Walls fifth is too low. I had him at No. 2. The reason? Walls was the heart of the offense in the team's early years. He put up some big numbers and was a major reason why the team went to the NFC Championship Game in only its second year.