2011 NFL Draft: Why One Bad Decision Gave the Carolina Panthers the No. 1 Pick

Mihir BhagatSenior Analyst IIIApril 18, 2011

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 23:  Jimmy Clausen #2 of the Carolina Panthers is sacked by Brett Keisel #99 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game on December 23, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers hold the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft after completing a dismal 2-14 season that was filled with incompetency and failures.

By record, they are the worst team in football and while they may get a nice consolation prize with the No. 1 overall pick, I don't think any team would want to be in this position. 

But why are they the worst team? Yeah, sure, most people can put all the blame on Jimmy Clausen and his lack of production in his rookie campaign.

But, is it really all his fault? 

Of course, in hindsight, it was a huge mistake to draft him and the 31 teams that passed on him made a brilliant move. Three touchdowns and a 58.4 passer rating is downright pathetic.

But ever question why he played so poorly? Yeah, maybe he's not ready to be an NFL starter and needs time to develop. However, in my opinion, the root of the issue lies in the offensive line which allowed a whopping 50 sacks which is simply inexcusable. Frankly, its tough to complete more than 52.5% of your passes when you're lying on your back most of the time.

Why is their offensive line so bad you ask? Heading in, it seemed as if they did but when it came down to game day they couldn't block a thing.

Despite being elected to the Pro Bowl, Jordan Gross certainly didn't play like it. Meanwhile, center Ryan Kalil often seemed flustered. Not to mention, they couldn't get over the injury bug.

It was obvious there was a lack of depth and the team suffered because of it.

So what should they have done differently? Well it goes back to the 2009 NFL Draft when they made a trade to acquire the 43rd overall pick from the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for a 2010 first round choice.

With that selection, they ended up taking Florida State DE Everette Brown out of desperation. At the time, Julius Peppers' was persistently demanding a trade so as a result the Panthers went into panic mode.

Out came a pass rusher (if you want to call him that) who's started just three games and has managed to register a mere six sacks so far in his career. Aside from a short stint towards the end of last season where he lit it up before getting injured, he had shown little to no promise. Even though its a bit early, looking back, it was a poor choice.

The Panthers would have been much better off staying put and had they done so they would've had the No. 17 pick in last year's draft. As it ultimately played out, that would've put them in a position to take Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, or possibly offensive tackle Byan Bulaga as part of one of the deepest offensive line classes in years. Instead, those two went to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers, respectively. Interestingly enough, those two teams coincidentally met in Super Bowl XLV. Crazy how that happened, huh?

Of course, there's nothing they can do now except move forward and hope they don't make a similar mistake this time around.