Every year during April, each NFL franchise seeks to add new players to its roster through a collegiate draft officially known as "the NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting" but more commonly known as the NFL Draft. Teams are ranked in inverse order based on the previous season's record, with the worst record picking first, and the second worst picking second and so on. The two exceptions to this order are made for teams that appeared in the previous Super Bowl; the Super Bowl champion always picks 32nd, and the Super Bowl loser always picks 31st. Teams have the option of trading away their picks to other teams for different picks, players, cash, or a combination thereof. Thus, it is not uncommon for a team's actual draft pick to differ from their assigned draft pick, or for a team to have extra or no draft picks in any round due to these trades.
The Panthers' only first overall selection came in 2011, when they selected Newton. They would have picked first in 2002, however, the inception of the Houston Texans that year allowed Houston to pick first instead of Carolina. Carolina had the first overall pick in their inaugural season, but traded the pick to the Bengals for the 5th and 36th overall selection. The Panthers have twice selected a Miami Hurricanes player in the first round: linebacker Dan Morgan in 2001 and Beason in 2007.
Collins, the team's first ever selection, made the Pro Bowl and led the Panthers to the playoffs in only their second season of existence, but he was later released after struggling on and off the field with alcoholism. Rae Carruth began his career as a promising wide receiver, but he was dropped from the team after being arrested for hiring someone to kill his pregnant girlfriend (he would later be convicted of the crime). Julius Peppers won Rookie of the Year, was named to the Pro Bowl on several occasions, and was the centerpiece of the Panthers' defensive line until signing with the Chicago Bears. Dan Morgan was also a highly touted Pro Bowl linebacker, but repeated concussions had caused him to miss parts of several seasons until the Panthers released him in 2008. The Panthers drafted Jon Beason in 2007 partially to insure their defense against Morgan's absence. Newton threw for 422 yards in his debut game, an NFL record, went on to set several passing records as a rookie, and won the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Kuechly led the NFL in tackles his rookie year, and won the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award one year after Newton's offensive ROTY.
When the Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars joined the league together in 1995, both teams participated in an expansion draft, where they selected players from 30 existing NFL teams. This list does not include players selected in that draft.
^"On a defensive line that suddenly has emerged as one of the league's best young units... Peppers is the linchpin."Len Pasquarelli (2003-08-05). "Peppers has bulked up, improved footwork". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2009-03-12.
^"Beason gives the Panthers the comfort they need at linebacker, where they can't help but be nervous about Dan Morgan's repeated problems with concussions.""What they're saying". Panthers.com. Archived from the original on 2007-05-01. Retrieved 2007-05-29.
^The Panthers acquired the fifth overall pick and a second-round selection (36th overall, used to select Shawn King) from the Cincinnati Bengals in exchange for the first overall pick, which the Bengals used to draft Collins' teammate at Penn State, Ki-Jana Carter.
^The Panthers acquired this pick from Miami in exchange for their 1998 2nd round selection (44th overall, used to select Patrick Surtain); the Panthers' original first-round selection had been traded to Washington.
^Although the Panthers finished the previous season with a league-worst 1-15 record, the Houston Texans were entering the league for the 2002 season and thus took the first selection.
^The Panthers acquired this pick, a second-round (59th overall, used to select Ryan Kalil) and fifth-round (164th overall, used to select Tim Shaw selections from the New York Jets in exchange for the Panthers' first-round (14th overall, used to select Darrelle Revis) and sixth-round (191st overall, later traded to Green Bay, used to select Korey Hall) picks.
^ abThe Panthers traded their 2008 2nd (43rd overall), 4th (109th overall), and 2009 1st round picks for the Philadelphia Eagles 1st round pick (19th overall)