NFL Draft 2011: Ranking the Potential Number 1 Choices for the Carolina Panthers

Tim GrovesCorrespondent IMarch 23, 2011

NFL Draft 2011: Ranking the Potential Number 1 Choices for the Carolina Panthers

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    The Carolina Panthers have narrowed down their number one pick to eight players, according to a recent article at ESPN.com.

    The article goes on to say that the probable eight players include quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton, wide receivers A.J. Green and Julio Jones, and any number of defensive lineman.  Based on the rankings at ESPN.com, the top four defensive lineman would include Marcell Dareus, Da'Quan Bowers, Robert Quinn and Nick Fairley.

    So out of those eight, who should the Panthers select number one?  Let's rank them.

8. Cam Newton, Quarterback

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Call me skeptical; call me a hater; call me whatever; but I'm not high on Cam Newton. 

    Newton is a phenomenal athletic specimen.  He has a strong arm and is ridiculously quick for a guy his size, but there are simply too many question marks. 

    There should obviously be concerns over his maturity and demeanor off of the field due to the multiple scandals he was apart of in college.  Whether it be the stolen laptop, getting kicked out of the University of Florida, or the pay-to-play allegations his senior year.  There is simply too much smoke for there not to be fire.

    Besides big, mobile quarterbacks have not always had the most stellar track record.

7. Julio Jones, Wide Receiver

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Julio Jones is an NFL wide receiver.  He has the size, speed, and experience to excel at the professional level.

    He competed against the best defenses in the country in the SEC and played out of a pro-style offense, all very positive things.

    But I can't justify spending a number one pick on him.  Outside of game-changing wideouts, like Larry Fitzgerald, I wouldn't be comfortable taking a receiver number one. 

    A potential top ten pick?  Absolutely.  A top pick?  No. 

6. Da'Quan Bowers, Defensive End

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    A serious injury is something a potential number one draft pick should never have.

    Da'Quan Bowers has bad knees.

    That's not a good combination.

    You simply cannot risk a number one pick on someone with a lingering injury.  Teams have been burned countless times by taking someone they assumed would end up healthy, and never did. 

    It's too risky, and there are too many great players available.  Hopefully Carolina won't be stupid enough to take this chance.

5. Nick Fairley, Defensive Tackle

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Nick Fairley has the size, tools, and athleticism to become one of the best defensive tackles in the league.  He could effectively stuff the middle and wreck havoc on opposing offensives.

    But he has too many red flags to be drafted number one overall.

    Questions have been raised surrounding Fairley about his work ethic. A young, rebuilding team like the Panthers do not need an Albert Haynesworth on their team.

    Fairley has also shown a penchant for getting penalty flags thrown his way, something that cannot be tolerated in the NFL.

4. A.J. Green, Wide Receiver

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    A.J. Green could turn out to be one of the best possession receivers in the game.

    His long arms, tremendous size, and experience will translate beautifully to those intermediate routes that help extend drives.

    He doesn't have the speed to be a burner on the outside or any kind of deep threat, though.

    Playing in a pro-style offense will only help him, but I still can't warrant a number one pick on a receiver. 

3. Robert Quinn, Defensive End

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Remember the last time Carolina took a defensive end out of North Carolina?

    Yeah, it worked out pretty well.

    Quinn is an elite player who will drop in rankings thanks to the NCAA and their ridiculous suspension policy.  He is extremely quick and powerful, and will be a force at the NFL level. 

    He still has room to improve, which makes him even scarier.

    The year off will ultimately cost him millions, as he will most likely drop out of the top five, when he is clearly a top three talent.

2. Marcell Dareus, Defensive Tackle

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Marcell Dareus has that rare blend of size, speed, and athleticism that transforms a player from great to elite.

    The defensive tackle excelled at Alabama in the 3-4 under Nick Saban.  He can collapse the pocket and shed blockers with ease.

    Dareus even commanded double teams throughout his college career, something he will face in the NFL, as well.

1. Blaine Gabbert, Quarterback

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    It's the sexy pick.

    A highly touted quarterback who dazzled at the Combine and has rocketed up draft boards. 

    It gives the Panthers that new face for their franchise now that they have changed head coaches.