CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 09: Julius Peppers #90 celebrates with teammate Luke Kuechly #59 of the Carolina Panthers against the Dallas Cowboys in the second half during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 9, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

We’ve had some very loved Carolina Panthers throughout the team’s history. Players like Sams Mills, Jake Delhomme, Steve Smith, John Kasey, and Cam Newton just to name a select few. That being said when I came across this list of the most loved defensive rookie players of the past 20 years I wasn’t surprised to see to Panthers. And it was exciting to see that a Carolina Panthers alum took the title of most loved defensive rookie.

This list was curated by Betway by taking the winners of the NFL’s prestigious “Defensive Rookie of the Year” winners from the last 20 years and looking at the online sentiment surrounding them. In the NFL Draft a quarterback, flashy running back or receiver are typically the sexiest picks for fans. But they saying is defense wins championships and I believe that to be true. When a team can draft a defensive rookie who can immediately make a positive impact that’s a huge advantage for the organization. When you think of some of the Panthers’ most popular defensive names who comes to mind first? Probably Luke Keuchly and Julius Peppers. Both were drafted by the Panthers ten years apart, and both made a huge impact on the franchise. They also of course both won the title of Defensive Rookie of the Year.

So it’s no surprise both of them made this list! Keep reading to see where each of the 20 most recent Rookie of the Year ranked on popularity and public sentiment. And of course which Carolina Panthers alum takes the title of most loved rookie? You can read the full Betway study here.

 

  • 20. Sheldon Richardson

    Sheldon Richardson

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – SEPTEMBER 03: Sheldon Richardson #91 of the New York Jets laughs on the field before a pre-season game against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on September 3, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

    Season Drafted: 2013

    College: Missouri

    NFL Team Drafted By: New York Jets

    Position: Defensive End

    Positive Sentiment: 0.77%

  • 19. Shaquille Leonard

    Shaquille Leonard

    JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – SEPTEMBER 18: Shaquille Leonard #53 of the Indianapolis Colts signs autographs before a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on September 18, 2022 in Jacksonville, Florida.

    Season Drafted: 2018

    College: South Carolina State

    NFL Team Drafted By: Indianapolis Colts

    Position: Linebacker

    Positive Sentiment: 1.11%

  • 18. Chase Young

    Chase Young

    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – OCTOBER 24: Chase Young #99 of the Washington Football Team participates in warmups prior to a game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on October 24, 2021 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

    Season Drafted: 2020

    College: Ohio State

    NFL Team Drafted By: Washington Commanders

    Position: Defensive End

    Positive Sentiment: 1.86%

  • 17. Ndamukong Suh

    Ndamukong Suh

    CHICAGO, IL – DECEMBER 21: Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh #90 of the Detroit Lions in action during the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on December 21, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.

    Season Drafted: 2010

    College: Nebraska

    NFL Team Drafted By: Detroit Lions

    Position: Defensive End

    Positive Sentiment: 1.86%

  • 16. Marcus Peters

    Marcus Peters

    KANSAS CITY, MO – DECEMBER 24: Cornerback Marcus Peters #22 of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after a play during the game against the Miami Dolphins at Arrowhead Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Kansas City, Missouri.

    Season Drafted: 2015

    College: Washington

    NFL Team Drafted By: Kansas City Chiefs

    Position: Cornerback

    Positive Sentiment: 2.39%

  • 15. Patrick Willis

    Patrick Willis

    SANTA CLARA, CA – OCTOBER 05: Patrick Willis #52 of the San Francisco 49ers runs onto the field during player introductions for their game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Levi’s Stadium on October 5, 2014 in Santa Clara, California.

    Season Drafted: 2007

    College: Ole Miss

    NFL Team Drafted By: San Francisco 49ers

    Position: Linebacker

    Positive Sentiment: 2.78%

  • 14. Jerod Mayo

    Jerod Mayo

    FOXBORO, MA – DECEMBER 10: Jerod Mayo #51 of the New England Patriots defends against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on December 10, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

    Season Drafted: 2008

    College: Tennessee

    NFL Team Drafted By: New England Patriots

    Position: Linebacker

    Positive Sentiment: 2.79%

  • 13. Julius Peppers

    Julius Peppers

    CHARLOTTE, NC – DECEMBER 24: Julius Peppers #90 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after a play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Season Drafted: 2002

    College: North Carolina

    NFL Team Drafted By: Carolina Panthers

    Position: Defensive End

    Positive Sentiment: 3.43%

  • 12. Shawne Merriman

    Shawne Merriman

    SAN DIEGO – SEPTEMBER 19: Linebacker Shawne Merriman #56 of the San Diego Chargers comes off the line of scrimmage against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Qualcomm Stadium on September 19, 2010 in San Diego, California. The Chargers won 38-13.

    Season Drafted: 2005

    College: Maryland

    NFL Team Drafted By: San Diego Chargers

    Position: Linebacker

    Positive Sentiment: 3.46%

  • 11. Brian Cushing

    Brian Cushing

    JACKSONVILLE, FL – DECEMBER 17: Brian Cushing #56 of the Houston Texans warms up on the field prior to the start of their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on December 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.

    Season Drafted: 2009

    College: Southern Cal

    NFL Team Drafted By: Houston Texans

    Position: Linebacker

    Positive Sentiment: 3.97%

  • 10. Marshon Lattimore

    Marshon Lattimore

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – DECEMBER 12: Marshon Lattimore #23 of the New Orleans Saints looks on during the game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on December 12, 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

    Season Drafted: 2017

    College: Ohio State

    NFL Team Drafted By: New Orleans Saints

    Position: Cornerback

    Positive Sentiment: 4.23%

  • 9. Jonathan Vilma

    Jonathan Vilma

    New York Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma follows the play against the Indianapolis Colts at Giants Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey, October 1, 2006. The Colts defeated the Jets 31-28.

    Season Drafted: 2004

    College: Miami

    NFL Team Drafted By: New York Jets

    Position: Linebacker

    Positive Sentiment: 4.36%

  • 8. Nick Bosa

    Nick Bosa

    SANTA CLARA, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 18: Nick Bosa #97 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after sacking Geno Smith #7 of the Seattle Seahawks during the fourth quarter at Levi’s Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Santa Clara, California.

    Season Drafted: 2019

    College: Ohio State

    NFL Team Drafted By: San Francisco 49ers

    Position: Defensive End

    Positive Sentiment: 4.60%

  • 7. Von Miller

    Von Miller

    DENVER, COLORADO – SEPTEMBER 26: Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos warms up before the game against the New York Jets at Empower Field At Mile High on September 26, 2021 in Denver, Colorado.

    Season Drafted: 2011

    College: Texas A&M

    NFL Team Drafted By: Denver Broncos

    Position: Linebacker

    Positive Sentiment: 4.61%

  • 6. Joey Bosa

    Joey Bosa

    INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 14: Joey Bosa #97 of the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on November 14, 2021 in Inglewood, California.

    Season Drafted: 2016

    College: Ohio State

    NFL Team Drafted By: San Diego Chargers

    Position: Defensive End

    Positive Sentiment: 4.66%

  • 5. Terrell Suggs

    Terrell Suggs

    BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – JANUARY 06: Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs #55 of the Baltimore Ravens looks on before playing against the Los Angeles Chargers during the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at M&T Bank Stadium on January 06, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland.

    Season Drafted: 2003

    College: Arizona State

    NFL Team Drafted By: Baltimore Ravens

    Position: Linebacker

    Positive Sentiment: 6.66%

  • 4. Aaron Donald

    Aaron Donald

    INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 08: efensive tackle Aaron Donald #99 of the Los Angeles Rams warms up before the NFL game against the Buffalo Bills at SoFi Stadium on September 08, 2022 in Inglewood, California.

    Season Drafted: 2014

    College: Pittsburgh

    NFL Team Drafted By: St. Louis Rams

    Position: Defensive Tackle

    Positive Sentiment: 7.43%

  • 3. Micah Parsons

    Micah Parsons

    ARLINGTON, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 18: Micah Parsons #11 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after sacking Joe Burrow #9 of the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Arlington, Texas

    Season Drafted: 2021

    College: Penn State

    NFL Team Drafted By: Dallas Cowboys

    Position: Linebacker

    Positive Sentiment: 8.05%

  • 2. DeMeco Ryans

    DeMeco Ryans

    HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 30: DeMeco Ryans #59 of the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium on October 30, 2011 in Houston, Texas.

    Season Drafted: 2006

    College: Alabama

    NFL Team Drafted By: Houston Texans

    Position: Linebacker

    Positive Sentiment: 8.9%

  • 1. Luke Kuechly

    Luke Kuechly

    CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – DECEMBER 29: Luke Kuechly #59 of the Carolina Panthers before their game against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Season Drafted: 2012

    College: Boston College

    NFL Team Drafted By: Carolina Panthers

    Position: Linebacker

    Positive Sentiment: 10.00%