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Monday, May 5, 2014
What Carolina might expect from 28th pick

By David Newton

Few if any teams have been more successful with their first pick in the NFL draft over the past three seasons than the Carolina Panthers.

In 2011, they took Auburn quarterback Cam Newton with the top pick. He went on to become the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year and was selected to the Pro Bowl for the first of two times in his three seasons.

In 2012, they took Boston College linebacker Luke Kuechly with the ninth pick. He went on to become the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in his first season and NFL Defensive Player of the Year in his second.

In 2013, they took Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei with the 14th pick. He went on to be named to several all-rookie teams and anchored a defensive front line on the league's second-ranked defense.

On Thursday, the Panthers will have the 28th pick. While it's easier to hit on top-10 and top-15 players, there's no reason to think Carolina won't walk away with a player who can have an immediate impact.

The best example over the past 10 years is offensive tackle Joe Staley, taken by San Francisco with the 28th pick in 2007. He started all 16 games as a rookie and has made the Pro Bowl the past three seasons.

The next best example may be cornerback Chris Gamble, taken 28th by Carolina in 2004. Gamble started all 16 games as a rookie and finished tied for the NFC lead -- third in the NFL -- in interceptions with six. He retired after the 2012 season as the team's all-time leader in interceptions with 27.

Here's a few facts about the 28th pick over the past 10 drafts to give you an indication of what Carolina can expect: