Here's why A.J. Green should be the first pick in the 2011 draft for The Carolina Panthers:
The Carolina Panthers entered the 2010 season with high hopes of making the playoffs, and many commentators had them pencilled in for a very good season—with a good shot at making the playoffs.
But after a 2010 draft where the franchise selected three QBs (although Edwards was supposed to convert to receiver) and had Matt Moore, who had shown great potential as the future QB—everything went wrong with the QB position. The team's season got derailed as Matt Moore got injured and Jimmy Clausen came within inches of being labeled "a bust".
The good news was that the defense actually played pretty well, as the Panthers were able to compensate for the loss of Julius Peppers. On top of that, the Panthers also have one of the youngest rosters in the NFL.
The Panthers offense was the Panthers biggest problem. It wasn't all because of bad QB play, but the team needs a QB behind center that they believe can lead the team and move the chains. It doesn't necessarily need to be one of the top QB prospects in this draft. In fact, I think you could argue that with the current lockout, sending an ill-prepared rookie QB in to run the Panthers offense could be disastrous.
If the Panthers are going to continue the run-first offense, you could even argue that they more than anything need a veteran QB that can manage the game, not a QB to win games for them.
Furthermore, I think you could easily argue that both Matt Moore and Jimmy Clausen need a fair shot as the starting QB of the Panthers, with some decent receivers to throw to.
In the 2011 draft there is an overwhelming opinion in many mocks that either Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert will go to the Panthers. And of the two, I think that Cam Newton has the best tangibles to match the Panthers run-first offense, because he is a dual threat and has a big arm to stretch the field.
However I think that both Newton, with his very limited experience, and Gabbert, with his questionable deep-ball accuracy and problems dealing with pressure in the pocket, could be too big of a risk for the Panthers.
If the Panthers can't trade out of the first pick, I think that the biggest impact player for them and one of the two safest picks in the 2011 draft, is A. J. Green.
If the Panthers could trade down into the top five to nine, they could probably still land A. J. Green or Julio Jones, who might even be a better fit than Green.
Paring A.J. Green with Steve Smith would instantly give the Panthers an elite passing duo and with Shockey at tight end, provide any decent QB with some great targets. The run game would also benefit greatly from a much-improved passing game, as it would prevent opposing defense from stacking the box.
If the Panthers can start moving the ball downfield, it would also take some pressure off the defense, resting them and making them better.
If the Panthers are looking for the player that will have the greatest impact on the overall performance of the team, and a player that is a safe pick, A. J. Green should be their man. Not Cameron Newton or Blaine Gabbert.