Carolina Panthers: Five Options the Un-Lucky Club Has With No. 1 Pick
Sadly for the Carolina Panthers and NFL fans who appreciate talented signal callers, Stanford Quarterback Andrew Luck has decided to stay for his Junior season. Luck, blessed with ideal physical tools at 6-4 and 235 lbs with plenty of athletic ability as well, finished second in the Heisman voting this past season after compiling 3332 Passing Yards, 35 Total Touchdowns, and an astounding 8.9 Yards Per Play (Passing or Running).
But enough about Andrew Luck and the foregone conclusion that the Carolina Panthers would have selected him with the first overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, had he declared; what do the Panthers do now? Maybe they still have some luck remaining and can find a way to trade out of the spot, but that is highly doubtful. Here are the five options I believe the 2-14 Carolina Panthers have come April.
With the First Selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers Select...
Defensive End Da’Quan Bowers from Clemson
Despite the many changes going on in Carolina, one thing is staying the same, and that is General Manager Marty Hurney still has his job. Hurney’s very first draft in 2002, the Panthers had a desperate need for a Defensive End and selected Julius Peppers out of North Carolina. And now, a year after letting Peppers leave Carolina, the Panthers are left with Charlie Johnson and Everette Brown. Neither of these players are horrible, but the Panthers finished tied for 20th in the league in sacks and can certainly improve.
Da’Quan Bowers is being hyped as an all-world type of prospect (ever since High School, in fact), and could be a solution for the Panthers after putting up 15 sacks as a Junior. I'm not the biggest supporter of Bowers, but the facts are that Bowers will probably blow up the Combine, and probably end up in the Top 5. Da'Quan has drawn comparisons to two of the best ever, Reggie White and Bruce Smith, and that's an awful lot to live up for a guy who struggled his first couple seasons at Clemson.
Wide Receiver Adriel “A.J.” from Georgia
Jimmy Clausen struggled mightily as a rookie and though many (including myself) will chalk it up to the idea that Clausen just is not a Franchise Quarterback, maybe the lack of Steve Smith for a few games and playing with rookie Wide Receivers Brandon LaFell and David Gettis had something to do with it.
As NFL defenses will find out though, A.J. Green is no rookie they’ll want to take for granted. Blessed with great natural size and athletic ability, A.J. has the freakish ball skills and body control to become a superstar in the NFL.
Many believe Green is the top talent in the Draft (including myself) and there is the old saying of taking the BPA or Best Player Available instead of reaching on a prospect that merely fits a need. Green is a stud in every sense of the word who will give the Panthers a dynamic play maker.
Quarterback Ryan Mallett from Arkansas
With Andrew Luck staying in school, Ryan Mallett is arguably the most gifted passer. When it comes to size and arm strength, Mallett has that in spades. Though he comes from an offense under Bobby Petrino that hasn’t produced a quality NFL signal caller, none of the previous Petrino quarterbacks have had the talent that Mallett has.
If you don’t have a Franchise Quarterback, draft one. If the Panthers honestly believe Mallett is one, then they should pull the trigger. Any Quarterback is going to come with some concerns, and for Mallett that would be mentally and fundamentally. But, if Ron Rivera has enough confidence in his coaching staff (Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach), selecting an incredibly gifted passer like Mallett should be no problem.
Quarterback Cameron Newton from Auburn
This option might be more for fanfare than anything else. But, should Cam Newton declare after leading the Auburn Tigers to the National Championship in just his first season under center while winning the Heisman trophy, he’d generate a lot of buzz and popularity for whomever drafts him.
And, that’s not even factoring in the whole deal with his father shopping him to schools.
Newton is a highly likeable player with a constant and beaming smile who brings elite size and stunning mobility to the position. Possibly the next Daunte Culpepper, there is no question Newton would sell jerseys, put fans in the seats, and keep eyes glued to television sets across the nation.
Defensive End Robert Quinn from North Carolina
This one is a little out of left field, but nobody should forget about Robert Quinn.
Quinn was suspended for his entire Junior season, but people shouldn’t forget about the super freak who put up 11 sacks as a Sophomore.
I don’t believe anybody in the state of North Carolina has forgotten about the man who has battled back from brain surgery and is a former two time heavyweight wrestling champion in the state of South Carolina.
This pick would draw a lot of interest because of Quinn’s life story, but could also greatly improve their Defense because Quinn has drawn comparisons to the likes of All-Pro DeMarcus Ware.
Maybe the solution to replacing Julius Peppers is selecting another North Carolina product with freakish skills?
New Man In Charge
The Panthers have many options now, even if none are as glorious as Andrew Luck. But, the Carolina Panthers are in obvious rebuilding mode and this selection will be crucial to their future. The selection of Ron Rivera as the Head Coach may be a hint that their leaning Defense with this pick, but nobody will truly know until April.