From the time that the off season began and a new coach was selected there have been links to the Panthers drafting either the top QB or the top defensive player seeing as Ron Rivera was a defensive coordinator and will likely be a defensive minded coach. Most mocks started with the panthers drafting Da'quan Bowers because Ron would love to fortify that defensive line and build through mainly the defense only and stick with Jimmy Clausen at QB. However as was inevitable with the off season more and more people want the panthers to draft a QB
Ok so first off this is in no way shape or form an endorsement for the Panthers to draft any one player, but instead offers another way to look at who they might draft.
So I have two points that I want to discuss that come to my mind when it comes to whether or not to draft a QB such as Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert. And whether or not Ron is going to draft one based on history
1. Most people need to get the thought that since RR was a defensive coordinator he is going to draft defense first. He is a head coach now and all Head coaches know that their jobs depend on their starting QBs. He like most new coaches has no ties to Jimmy and therefore would be willing to replace him. Take the Detroit Lions for example a few years ago. They had the first pick in the draft and had just hired Jim Schwartz a defensive coordinator to be the head coach. When the off season started everyone thought he would (or wanted him to) draft defense first because he was defensive minded. Most people wanted Aaron Curry or Tyson Jackson then as the off season events unfolded like they always do the theme moved to get an offensive linemen to protect the QB since they Lions gave up so many sacks. But Jim being a head coach knew that he needed a franchise Quarterback above all else if he was going to win in the league. He chose Matthew Stafford even though it wasn't the most popular pick. Now most Lion's fans swear by the guy and his toughness even if he has been injured his first few years.
2. This is the most important rule when it comes to drafting IMO. A franchise QB trumps all else. If the coaching staff and organization believes that Cam, Blaine, or even Locker is their franchise guy then they have to take him no ifs ands or buts. You never bypass a franchise QB to fill another need unless you already have one in place that you know is the guy and will be there for years. I think we can all agree that Jimmy is not "The Guy." A perfect example of this is the 2008 draft when the Dolphins had the 1st pick in the draft. They had to choose between what many perceived to be a franchise QB (ie Matt Ryan) or the franchise Tackle (ie Jake Long). Many people said it was a case of need vs BPA. The dolphins decided to bypass Ryan since they had another QB on the roster who was serviceable and instead build the trenches by taking the one in a decade BPA left tackle. That decision is still biting them in the butt today. The Falcons who took Ryan three years ago have been to the playoffs two of his three years with three consecutive winning seasons (they had never even had two consecutive winning seasons) and their team is still getting better. The dolphins on the other hand are still looking for their franchise QB and their team is on a downward spiral not able to compete with the other QB's in the division which are constantly getting better (but hey they have a great LT).
To sum up the panthers cannot afford to pass up drafting Blaine or any other QB that They Feel is a franchise guy and has great potential just to draft a once in a decade BPA (ie Patrick Peterson, A.J. Green, or whoever else). Franchise QBs trump all else and if you pass on him because of perceived character flaws, or bad deep balls, or inaccuracy the team could be right back in this position (not necessarily with the 1st pick in the draft) for years to come.