The Carolina Panthers have never selected 16th in the NFL Draft, but it was a sweet 16 for one team in the past.
Any discussion of the history of the 16th pick must begin with Jerry Rice. Considered one of the best players ever to lace ‘em up, Rice was an unproven wide receiver out of Mississippi Valley State in 1985 who was viewed as a draft-day reach by some when the 49ers selected him. The Panthers should be so lucky in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Rice is the most famous 16th pick but not the only one. Before a longer trip into the wayback machine, here’s a look at the last five No. 16 selections.
2018: Bills choose LB Tremaine Edmunds
The Virginia Tech product recorded 121 tackles as a rookie and finished particularly strong to earn NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for December.
2017: Ravens choose CB Marlon Humphrey
Part-time starter each of his first two NFL seasons who was trending up late in 2018, when the former Alabama standout paced Baltimore with 15 passes defensed.
2016: Lions choose OT Taylor Decker
The Ohio State product has started 40 games at left tackle – all but the first eight of his second NFL season (shoulder injury). He caught a touchdown pass to boot in 2018.
2015: Texans choose CB Kevin Johnson
Recorded one interception as a rookie, but the Wake Forest product has struggled to find his footing. Released by Houston last month and signed by the Bills.
2014: Cowboys choose OT Zack Martin
A standout from Day One, the Notre Dame product converted to right guard before his first game and has been a Pro Bowler each of his five seasons, seeing a streak of 78 consecutive starts end late in 2019.
Looking further back at the 16th pick, Rice is the lone Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee at the spot, but he could have company in the near future. Playmaking safety Troy Polamalu, taken by the Steelers in 2003, will be eligible for the first time in 2020 and has a shot at being a first-ballot selection.
The 16th spot has produced some fearsome pass rushers over the years – most recently four-time Pro Bowler rusher Ryan Kerrigan (Redskins in 2011) but also Hugh Douglas (Jets in 1995) as well as the late, great Chester McGlockton, a North Carolina native and Clemson standout picked by the Raiders in 1992.
A less successful defensive end was taken at 16 by the Dolphins in 1987, but John Bosa fathered the No. 3 pick in the 2016 draft (Joey) another potential top-three pick this year (Nick).
Another freakish pass rusher was part of an interesting Titans tandem taken No. 16 back in the day. Jevon Kearse was sweet 16 in the 1999 draft, one year after Tennessee took wide receiver Kevin Dyson in the same spot. In Kearse’s rookie year, when he led the AFC with 14.5 sacks and the NFL with eight forced fumbles, Dyson scored on the “Music City Miracle” against the Bills and then was stopped one yard short of the goal line as time expired in a seven-point loss to the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV.
Check out the gallery below to review all the players drafted with the 16th pick since 2000.
Take a look at this slideshow of AP images featuring players taken with the No. 16 pick in the NFL draft.