When you think about Mount Rushmore, obviously you think of four great presidents and what they did for the United States of America to the point of putting them on a mountain. The same could be said for anything and in terms of football, one could argue that each team, division, and conference has a list for every position. Cornerbacks aren’t usually the first group of guys that one thinks of but they play major roles and should be revered in the same way quarterbacks are. Having said that, we’re going to look at the Carolina Panthers’ Mount Rushmore of cornerbacks over the years.
Carolina Panthers’ Mount Rushmore of Cornerbacks
Honorable mention: James Bradberry, 2016-2019
Bradberry, for most of his career in Carolina, was one of the most underrated players to wear the jersey even though he played a major role in that defense. Of course, he didn’t come until after the coveted 2015 season that ended in the Panthers’ ultimate demise, but he held his own despite the naysayers.
He accounted for eight interceptions, 222 solo tackles, and three sacks over his four seasons with the Panthers. The fact that there were many people who thought he couldn’t do it, gave him all the motivation he needed.
1. Chris Gamble (2004-2012)
In no particular order, let’s start with this guy. Picked 28th overall by the Panthers in the 2004 NFL draft, he immediately put his imprint on this franchise.
Talk about an interception machine. Gamble posted at least one in each of his first six seasons, topping out at seven in 2005. And then there were the two touchdowns he scored on said interceptions in 2005 and 2006.
And you can’t mention Gamble without mentioning how much of a humble leader he was to the other corners of his team. Maybe not at first, but by the time he left one would say he was a leader and put his impact on that team.
He made a name for himself at (the) Ohio State University as a wide receiver that played on both sides of the ball, also wrangling those balls in on defense. Hands weren’t an issue for him. If the Panthers were to make a Mount Rushmore of cornerbacks, Gamble goes on that list.
2. Josh Norman (2012-2015*)
Selected in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL draft, Norman wasn’t your typical corner but always worked hard. That hard work finally paid off during the 2015 season which is why he makes it on the Mount Rushmore of cornerbacks for the Panthers.
Norman was not on anyone’s radar when he first got to Carolina and getting a guy out of Coastal Carolina wasn’t exactly a top-notch move for the Panthers. But, he worked hard and it showed as he got better each year (aside from sitting out almost half of 2013 due to an MCL sprain).
In 2015, Norman amassed four interceptions, two touchdowns, 110 yards off those interceptions, and three forced fumbles. He was a very intricate part of that defense and gave plenty of receivers fits including Odell Beckham Jr. who, at the time, was. playing for the New York Giants. The only issue that came with Norman was at the end of that season when he sought a healthy contract and failed to stay in talks with the team that helped develop him as the player he emerged as.
3. Charles Tillman (2015)
When you come into a franchise and instantly leave a lasting impression on them, you have stamped your name into their book. Tillman will be placed on the Mount Rushmore of cornerbacks for the Panthers for doing just that.
Coming into Carolina for what would become his final season as a player placed possibly the biggest impact on his career. He introduced the “Peanut” punch to the Panthers’ defense that year which became an intricate part of it. Outside of that though, he was busy in his short time with the Panthers.
Two interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and countless “Peanut” punches–not much to the common team–meant a great deal to that 2015 team because of the extra spark it gave them.
In terms of his stats, he wasn’t the most decorated cornerback and he came to the Panthers at the end of his career, but the impression he left will always be felt in defenses to come.
4. Richard Marshall (2006-2010)
Luke Tucker, a couple of years ago, eluded to the fact that Marshall deserved a spot on the all-time starting defense but didn’t make the cut because of Norman’s performance. Don’t worry Tucker, I’ll add you to the Mount Rushmore of cornerbacks for the Panthers.
Marshall was a vital part of the Panthers’ defense largely because the offense struggled to get past mediocre for that stretch of time. The 14 interceptions, three forced fumbles, nine fumble recoveries, and five sacks over his career in Carolina solidified his greatness on the field.
Perhaps his greatness was overshadowed by the number of issues the Panthers were trying to overcome during his career there. No doubt he held his own while trying to make his defense better.
Cornerbacks Are People Too
The same could be said for any number of positions on the field. The same way it was important for the Panthers to go out and get Sam Darnold to better this everchanging team, is the same way a team should always speak extensively of their cornerbacks.
The guys on this list, the ones that would be on the Mount Rushmore of cornerbacks for the Panthers, are ones that despite what the rest of the team was doing put the weight of that position on their own shoulders to function properly.
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