What Should the Carolina Panthers Do With the First Pick in the 2011 NFL Draft?

Apr 5, 2011

The Panthers were 2-14 last year. Their 196 points scored last year was the lowest in the league by a mile. They scored 75 fewer points than an inept Cleveland Browns offense. That’s nearly five fewer points per game than the league’s second worst scoring offense. Their 143.1 passing yards per game was nearly 40 fewer than an Arizona team that is desperate for a quarterback change. Clearly the Panthers need better play out of their quarterback. The question is will it be Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert, or Jimmy Clausen?
So how bad was Jimmy last year? He completed 52.5 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and nine interceptions. He had a 58.4 passer rating. In his defense he had just one legitimate target (Steve Smith) in the passing game, and he actually had fewer fantasy points in non-PPR leagues than David Gettis. Smith will turn 32 in May and is on the downside of his career. An intriguing option would be to select Georgia WR A.J. Green with the number one pick. He is the top receiver prospect since Calvin Johnson and the Panthers could take a quarterback in the third round to compete with Clausen.
The Panthers struggled on the defensive side of the football as well. They ranked 26th with 25.5 points allowed per game. Carolina allowed the tenth most rushing yards per game (123.8). Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus won’t help you score points on offense, but he would certainly beef up their defense. If he commanded double teams, it would open things up for everybody else. The Panthers could also consider Patrick Peterson, but cornerbacks traditionally have not gone that high in the draft.
Without a second round pick it seems unlikely that the Panthers go in any direction other than quarterback. It will most likely come down to a decision between Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton. Sorry Jimmy. Gabbert is a safer choice while Newton has more  upside. Not only does Newton have incredible athleticism, but he has the ability to put butts in the seats and increase merchandise sales. If the lockout continues, that revenue stream would be desirable.
If I were pulling the trigger on the Panthers’ first pick I would go with A.J. Green. I’d bring  back Matt Moore once the lockout is over and have an open competition at quarterback. If you struggle again this year, perhaps you land Andrew Luck next year.
What would you do if you were calling the shots for the Panthers?

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5 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Brad
    April 5th, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    I’ll give a Panthers fans perspective.

    The defense wasn’t as bad as it seems. They had some really good players and made some really good plays, but when your defense is on the field for 3/4 of the game, you’re going to give up points. The offense was so terrible that it put the defense on the field for way too long.

    I don’t like either QB to be honest. I don’t think either one of them are going to be instant fixes, and I don’t think either one of them are #1 overall picks. Jimmy was terrible, yes, and there should be another QB brought in, but I don’t know if I’d want to use the #1 pick on one in this year’s crop. To me, the best QB in this draft is Ryan Mallet, but I don’t think I’d take him #1 overall either.

    The best case scenario for the Panthers would be to trade out of the pick if they can convince another team to take Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert #1 overall. There are plenty of teams in the top half of the draft who need a QB, and if the Panthers can get some more picks it would be ideal.

    Since it’s likely that no one will trade, I’d go the safe route and pick Dareus #1 overall to beef up the defensive line and either pick a QB late (Ricky Stanzi or Colin Kaepernick) or sign a FA once the lockout is over. Or if the lockout would end before the draft, it would be a possibility to trade for Kevin Kolb, but I don’t think the lockout will end in time for that deal to be made.

    I’d love to see Matt Moore get another shot, but he’s coming off a torn labrum, and it’s not likely that he will return.

  2. Jim
    April 5th, 2011 at 10:59 am #

    Carolina needs so much help I think they should trade the #1 overall pick to accumulate some draft picks, if they can find a trade partner. I don’t like the quarterback crop this year, especially Cam Newton at number one. I think Carolina has needed a game breaking wide receiver for a long time. Steve Smith had his day but that day is in the rear view mirror. If they’re not into a wide receiver early, then they need to work on the offensive line. That’s my two cents.

  3. LestersLegends
    April 5th, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    Thanks for adding gentlemen. I love hearing perspective from fans. Trading that pick seems so difficult so they should probably grab Dareus, Green, or Peterson. Not having a second pick hurts big time.

  4. Tiger Paws
    April 9th, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

    For what it’s worth: I’ve watched every game Gabbert has played for two seasons, and I’ve watched Sam Bradford play all 16 games of his NFL career. They are very similar players.

  5. LestersLegends
    April 9th, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    That would be hard to pass up for Carolina.

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