Carolina Out of Luck: Who Will The Panthers Draft Now?

Evan HigginsCorrespondent IIJanuary 7, 2011

Carolina Out of Luck: Who Will The Panthers Draft Now?

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    Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson with wide receiver Steve Smith before  play against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers September 24, 2006 in Tampa.  The Panthers defeated the Bucs 26 - 24.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    The Carolina Panthers just can't seem to stop losing this season.

    Carolina has now lost what could be a complete franchise quarterback in Andrew Luck, who has chosen to stay in school instead of applying for the NFL Draft. 

    Luck, a 6'4",235lbs quarterback currently playing at Stanford University, is exactly what any rebuilding team needs--and fits what Carolina needs in a quarterback.

    Luck has thrown for 45 touchdowns in just two seasons with Stanford, leading them to a 12-1 record this season, and a win against Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, where he threw four touchdowns. 

    Carolina had reported that they would take Luck with the first overall pick if he had opted to play in the NFL, but that is all but gone now, and will have to settle with someone else with their pick.

    Even with Luck out of the NFL Draft, does Carolina still take a quarterback here, or trade down to get one?

    The 2-14 Panthers have a lot of options here, including sticking with Jimmy Clausen as their starting quarterback, hoping to shape him into a franchise quarterback. 

    There will also be a lot of veteran quarterbacks on the market this offseason, with names like Vince Young, Donovan McNabb and Kyle Orton, who Denver recently stated they would trade for a second round pick---although Carolina does not own one currently.

    With Luck opting to stay in college for at least another season, here are some options Carolina will have this upcoming NFL Draft, as they own the first overall pick. 

AJ Green, WR, Georgia.

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    KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 10: A.J. Green #8 of the Georgia Bulldogs runs with the ball after a reception during the SEC game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on October 10, 2009 in Knoxville, Tennessee. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    AJ Green is no doubt a stud wide receiver, but is he really what Carolina needs right now? 

    A team looking for an offensive spark would definitely get one from a player like Green---three years from now. 

    Usually, it takes receivers three years to reach their full potential, spending a lot of time learning, watching and getting up to speed in the NFL. Even though Green is one of the better receivers we have seen come out of the NFL Draft since Calvin Johnson, it still wouldn't be a good move from a team who needs a huge spark as fast as possible.

    It is also rare for a wide receiver to be taken first overall, the last one being Keyshawn Johnson in 1996.

    Drafting Green would give this team another option to their struggling receiving game that features former Pro Bowler Steve Smith, and '10 rookies David Gettis, Brandon LaFell and Armanti Edwards.

    But the biggest issue on this team would still be there---the man throwing these receivers the ball.

Da'Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson.

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    AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 18:  Da'Quan Bowers #93 of the Clemson Tigers against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 18, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Bowers is a complete monster on the defensive line, showing that with a nation-best 16 sacks in 2010.

    Drafting him would help one of Carolina's biggest needs, the defensive line, since Julius Peppers failed to re-sign with the team last offseason.

    Selecting Bowers would help this team a lot on defense, making teams fear this defensive line like Carolina loves to do. If the Panthers do end up picking a defensive coordinator as their head coach, this move would not surprise me.

    The Clemson defensive end does have top-5 pick potential, but is he what Carolina needs right now as well? Just like i stated about Green, he wouldn't provide that much needed spark like Carolina needs right now. 

    Also, defensive linemen are some of the most bust-bound players to ever be drafted in the NFL. More often then not, the best place to find defensive linemen in the draft are late-first round to mid-second round.

Ryan Mallet, QB, Arkansas.

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    AUBURN - OCTOBER 16:  Quarterback Ryan Mallett #15 of the Arkansas Razorbacks drops back to throw a pass during the game against the Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium on October 16, 2010 in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    Selecting Ryan Mallet would definitely put a downer on these Carolina Panthers' fans.

    While Mallet had a solid college career, it was nothing more than solid, and ended it with a game-ending interception against Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl.

    Mallet looks and plays similar to Andrew Luck, but is hard to compare the two after each had very different performances in their Bowl games. He threw 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in the 2010 season, and often times showed great potential, while also struggling.

    There is a slim chance of Carolina picking him; there is actually a big chance of him falling greatly after his draft stock was hurt so much after the Sugar Bowl game. 

Cam Newton, QB, Auburn.

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    AUBURN, AL - NOVEMBER 6:  Quarterback Cam Newton #2 of the Auburn Tigers celebrates a touchdown run against the Chattanooga Mocs November 6, 2010 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Alabama.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Ah, yes, the new favorite to be the first overall pick by Carolina fans all around, Cam Newton.

    The 2010 Heisman Trophy winner put up amazing stats, posting 2,589 yards passing, 28 touchdowns with only six interceptions. He also ran the ball for 1,409 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns.

    Oh yeah, did I fail to mention he was also 6'6"?

    Are you kidding me?

    A 6'6" quarterback ran for more yards then a lot of starting running backs in the NCAA and NFL, while still posting great numbers passing. Newton has one of the best arms in the NCAA, and led his team to the BCS Championship game against Oregon. 

    How he plays in this game will affect weather he can be a top overall pick or not.

    Drafting Newton would be perfect for Carolina.

    He brings mobility to the quarterback position, something Carolina needs and has always failed to have.

    Newton also has a stronger arm than any other quarterback this team has ever had---and is a very good upgrade over Jimmy Clausen, who the team drafted in the second round in 2010.

    This would also be a good fit for Carolina Panthers' receiver Steve Smith, who has struggled to get the ball in recent seasons without a strong-armed quarterback. 

    Newton combined with Smith and running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart; this offense could easily and quickly become one of the best in the NFL.

    Now, all Newton has to do is put up a strong game against Oregon in the BCS Championship game, and he may lock up this spot. 

Acquire Kyle Orton or Donovan McNabb---Or Continue Developing Clausen.

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 07:  Jimmy Clausen #2 of the Carolina Panthers against the New Orleans Saints during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 7, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Just this week, reports came out that Vince Young will be out in Tennessee, and Kyle Orton is available for just a second-round pick. It is also no secret that Donovan McNabb will not be in a Redskins' uniform next season. 

    While Young would probably not be the best option, both Orton and McNabb would be good short-term answers while they help develop Jimmy Clausen or another young quarterback. 

    Jimmy Clausen isn't quite done, either. 

    There is still a great chance that he could be the Panthers' franchise quarterback. With more experience and good coaches and veterans to help teach him, I believe Clausen could be a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL.

    But, Carolina has never shown patience in developing players, so they will want to grab an NFL-ready rookie or a veteran quarterback who has played well in his NFL career.

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