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2011 NFL Draft: Are the Carolina Panthers Targeting A.J. Green at No. 1?

AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 13:  A.J. Green #8 of the Georgia Bulldogs against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Chris HawkinsContributor IIIFebruary 10, 2011

Many expected the Carolina Panthers to draft Andrew Luck with the No. 1 overall pick.

But, Luck deciding to return for another year at Stanford derailed those plans. It was a crushing blow to the Panthers, as there was no other quarterback worth selecting with the first overall pick who had the ability to excel in an NFL passing game right away like Luck did.

Which begs the question. Who will the Panthers draft now?

The most likely candidate is A.J. Green.

The Panthers had the worst offense in the NFL this season and part of the reason was the lack of a game-changing receiver.

Yes, Steve Smith is still part of the team, but he is 31, not the speedy game-changing reciever he once was earlier in his career. And now there is doubt that he will even be with the team next season.

Add all of this up and it becomes likely that Carolina will select Green with the No. 1 overall pick.

Green is the game-changing receiver that the Panthers need—he has the size and speed. Already, his ability is being compared to the likes of Larry Fitzgerald and Calvin Johnson.

He has the ability to make the field bigger for other players. DeAngelo Williams will be given more space to run outside the tackles.

More importantly, he can provide some help for the young quarterback out of Notre Dame.

Jimmy Clausen had a tough rookie season. He was 1-9 as a starter, completed a little over 50 percent of his passes and had the NFL's worst passer rating.

With Green's big hands and his ability to catch the ball without securing it by bringing it to his body, he will make playing the quarterback position for Clausen a little easier.

Clausen isn't a lost cause yet, a weapon like A.J. Green is what he needs to be successful and confident.

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