2011 NFL Draft: With the First Pick, the Carolina Panthers Select...

Joe WillettSenior Writer IJanuary 25, 2011

SAN DIEGO, CA - NOVEMBER 23:  Defensive Coordinator Ron Rivera of the San Diego Chargers looks on against the Indianapolis Colts during their NFL Game at Qualcomm Stadium on November 23, 2008 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

The time has come again to begin looking ahead to the NFL Draft.  The NFC and AFC Championship games have come and passed and most teams are in offseason mode right now.

So let's take a look, team by team, at who will go where in the 2011 NFL Draft.

First off, it's time to look at a team that was beyond horrible this season.  They earned their No. 1 draft pick and are lucky not to be the second team in recent memory to go 0-16.


Season Recap

During the 2010 NFL Draft, Jimmy Clausen fell way further than anybody was expecting (I personally enjoyed watching team after team make their picks and not hearing Clausen's name).

They gave him the opportunity to lead the team early in the season, and he was downright awful.  People say that you need to give rookies time to develop, and Clausen definitely needed it.

He ended up throwing just three touchdowns on the season and helped lead them to the 32nd ranked passing attack in the NFL.

The running game wasn't bad; they ended up ranked 13th in rushing yards and their top two running backs broke the 4.0 yards per rush mark.

Their defense wasn't at the bottom of the league either, they ranked 11th in pass defense and 23rd in rush defense.

Overall, they have a lot of holes to fix if they plan on becoming contenders any time soon and they need to see if Clausen is really their man for the future.


Draft Needs

Without Andrew Luck in the draft, the Panthers actually have work to do when deciding what they want to do with their first overall pick.

They need a lot of positions, and they need to figure out and a few players that fill those needs at the top of most people's mock drafts.

Da'Quan Bowers out of Clemson gives them the dominant pass rusher that they missed last season with the loss of Julius Peppers, and a lot of people are projecting him to be the top pick.

Nick Fairley from Auburn is another guy who has been getting a lot of attention as a possible first overall pick.  He would give the Panthers a presence up the middle, and the way Ndamukong Suh played last season for the Detroit Lions gives them perspective on what a dominant defensive tackle can do for a team.

A.J. Green makes a lot of sense for the Panthers from an offensive standpoint.  No Panthers receiver broke 600 yards last season, and Green could become a stud for the Panthers for years to come.

Overall, there a lot of ways that the Panthers can go with this pick and it's likely that we won't know for sure until the draft starts and we hear their pick's name called out.


Who They Pick: Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson

Bowers is a going to be a force coming off the edge for years to come and they will likely want somebody to come in and take the role that Peppers held for so many years.

They need to work a lot on their offense, but Bowers is not a talent that you can pass up.

I'm Joe W.