The #1 overall pick comes with many things. Attention from the media and draft world for months. Discussion over who we will select and why will dominate draft talk on TV and the web from now until April 28th when the commissioner walks to the podium. And excitement from the fanbase at the opportunity to pick a great, possibly even legendary player. That is the dream for us all at #1, and given the season we just had I'd say we deserve a player who'll make us and everyone else forget. But the other side of the coin is just as ugly as this side is beautiful. The #1 doesn't gurantee you a great player, far from it in fact. In reality it's just another draft choice, with an equal chance of hit or miss. The most egregious difference is the fact that if you miss on the #1, the stigma and consequences are usually much, much greater. Everyone knows who Jamarcus Russell is, and the Raiders will never be rid of his name. Failing to select the right player at #1 also usually results in some severe financial handicapping. But the league and draft are changing. Things everyone once thought were true are being challenged. So Panther fans, let me ask you this. Do we really have to hit on the #1 overall pick?
If you look at the history of those selected at #1, you really would only have a few options in this draft. Alphabetically, Daquan Bowers, Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton, and Robert Quinn. A case could be made for either Dareus or Fairley because of our extreme need for a defensive tackle, but they would be dark horse picks. This is because in the league today there are select few impact positions. The lists vary, but generally the consensus is QB, DE, LT, with the other positions taking on supporting roles. With the #1 overall pick, you're looking for a franchise player, and the history of the pick in the last 20 years supports this. 12 QB's, three DT's (none in the 2000's), one RB, one WR, and two offensive tackles have been selected since 1990. Also, with the exponentially growing salary of the #1 pick, there became only a few positions worth paying the top money required. However the probability of a rookie wage scale changes things dramatically.
Now the pick becomes less of a must hit. Missing on this pick will likely still carry the stigma, but the fact that there will be no long term financial repercussions will allow a team to recover quickly. More positions will also be opened, as a player taken there won't be paid as a top five player at his position and thus won't necessarily have to perform accordingly. With that in mind, players like Dareus, Fairley, Peterson, and even Von Miller become possible selections. Add in the fact that neither Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton are "locks" and have serious question marks, and you have a raging debate for whom we should take that is larger than normal.
Some people want to take the best available player who fills a need. Whether it's Patrick Peterson, Nick Fairley, Marcel Dareus, or even A.J. Green for a short time, they want a guy who will come in and make the most immediate impact. And there is no denying any of those four players would make us better immediately. Others are thinking more along the lines of the future. They see a chance for us to grab a franchise QB and want us to take it. And with a once in a generational talent and a guy well liked by many scouts, the possibility is there for a QB to hear his name called when Goodell walks up to the podium. There is a valid argument for both. The best way to build a team is with BPA, as you soon find yourself with a roster chock full of talent. On the other hand, you can't win consistently without a QB. So my thought is why not gamble on the QB? If we miss, is it really going to hurt us that bad? We aren't going to be financially tied to either Gabbert or Newton for very long, and we can move on much more quickly if the guy we pick doesn't prove himself to be what we need. And if we hit on the pick, the rewards will be great. So what say you Panther nation, is it worth it to gamble on the #1 pick?