The NCAA tournament reminds me of our situation with the no.1 pick in the 2011 draft. You have a fews teams that are talented enough to win it all, your wild card teams, and your Cinderella story. Well recently Ron Rivera stated that their were 8 potentials with our first round pick this year. Personally I believe unless there is a trade, there are really only 4. Recent history tells us when a team has the no. 1 pick in the NFL draft, there are a few things that are almost certain. Let's look at some of these to help us determine who the"Final Four" are.
1) The pick will be one of three positions: QB, DE, or OT.
1990-Jeff George (QB)
1991- Russell Maryland (DT)
1992- Steven Emtman (DE)
1993- Drew Bledsoe (QB)
1994- Dan Wilkinson (DT)
1995- Ki-Jana Carter (RB)
1996- Keyshawn Johnson (WR)
1997- Orlando Pace (T)
1998- Peyton Manning (QB)
1999- Tim Couch (QB)
2000- Courtney Brown (DE)
2001- Michael Vick (QB)
2002- David Carr (QB)
2003- Carson Palmer (QB)
2004- Eli Manning (QB)
2005- Alex Smith (QB)
2006- Mario Williams (DE)
2007- JaMarcus Russell (QB)
2008- Jake Long (T)
2009- Matthew Stafford (QB)
2010- Sam Bradford (QB)
It makes sense. Pass protection, pass rush, and good QB have major impacts on the outcome of football games. Just look at the no. 1 picks within the past 20 years. Up until 1997 it seemed that teams picked the best possible player or based on need. But the concept of the draft seemed to shift to specific positions, mainly Quarterback. Only 3 Tackles and 2 DE's were taken no. 1 overall in a 14 year period.
As Panthers fans know all too well if any of these things are missing then your chances of losing are substantially increased. So this brings me back to my point from earlier...sure we are looking at 8 prospects but I believe there are 4 the Panthers are really interested in for the no. 1 pick and three of them are QBs. If we go based off history and what information we have concerning the draft, we can say that Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, and Ryan Mallett could all be Panthers. I just don't see the Panthers doing private workouts, dinners, pro days, etc. on all these prospects and not have a legitimate interest in them. Plus Rivera said these 3 were on the list of 8.
Now, the fourth person is the wild card in this situation. Patrick Peterson throws a monkey wrench into the equation.
2) Cornerbacks are not taken no. 1 overall in the NFL draft
That's not to say it can't happen. And the Panthers may very well break that trend this year. The highest a cornerback has been taken is #3 overall. But due to there not being a consensus no. 1 pick and Peterson's talent, he maybe taken by us on draft day as a BPA. With Richard Marshall's uncertatinty and Gamble being suspect last year, CB becomes a greater need.
3)Teams do not trade the no. 1 pick unless comparable compensation is given for it
Rarely will you see a franchise give up so much for one player. You might as well sell your soul in this life and the next. There is too much to give up for this covetous spot with no consensus no. 1 pick. It would be nice if we could trade down but I don't see it happening. Honestly ask yourself, if you were an NFL franchise, would you give up so much for a player project like Cam Newton or Blaine Gabbert ? Or a DE with knee problems like Da'Quan Bowers? Or even a cornerback whom people are calling the next Deion Sanders? I know I wouldn't!
This last point is specific to our beloved Panthers. The Panthers in recent drafts have taken gambles .We have seen that Marty Hurney will "rob Peter to pay Paul" on draft day to move up to get the player he wants. Some of these have panned out( 2008 we got Otah and Stewart in the 1st round) while other have not shown dividends yet. Armanti Edwards and Everette Brown come to mind. Marty also has antoher tendency...
4) The Carolina Panthers will draft BPA or for a position where there may not be a need.
Now I don't see that happening this year but with Marty Hurney, anything can happen. In 2008 we already had an up and coming RB in DeAngelo Williams. But what do we do...draft another running back in the 1st round! In hindsight, this was a brilliant move as Williams and Stewart are dynamic together. Last year we draft Jimmy Clausen with the 48th overall pick. At first. I am sure many of us were thinking that we have a Quarterback in Matt Moore and backup in Josh McCown. But Jimmy was the best player available at that time. So Marty pulled the trigger. Same can be said when we took MLB John Beason, granted Dan Morgan had a lot of injury issues but he was a great MLB when on the field. Beason was a great pick but wasn't a need per se'. Ryan Kalil is another good example of a BPA.
In Summary, The NFL has changed. You need an above average Quarterback to compete and win in this league. Look at our division. Brees, Freeman, and Ryan are all franchise QB's and are subject to win Super Bowls. Heck, Brees already did! Draft history in the past two decades shows where the league is shifting too. To win you need an above average Quarterback. Gone are the days when a Delhomme or Dilfer are good enough to get you to the big dance and win it! Obviously we need consistent Quarterback. Which leans toward us drafting a another QB even though we technically drafted 3 in 2010 if you count Armanti. But we don't need just any QB, but a FRANCHISE QB. Something we have never had in our short lived history. In our division, we can’t compete unless we have one. Rivera keeps talking about how we need one and is willing to go to any measure to get one. Via trade, draft, or developing what we have on the roster. And he is right. I for one am glad the Panthers are diligently looking for that person who will take us to that next level as a franchise.
From what we know, the 2011 Draft is a turning point for our Panthers. We will most likely draft a potential franchise QB. The Panthers have to get this pick right if we want to be a contender year in and year out. Our Franchise has set the reset button and it begins with a Quarterback. But look on the bright side, if we flop again then we would surely get "Lucky" in 2012.