Take a moment and think about a time when you took a risk. How did it turn out? Risk taking is a part of life. Every one takes one. Some risks are good. Some are bad. The 2011 Draft is different from others due to all this CBA tension. No one really knows how the new CBA will affect the 2011 draft class. This makes every player, especially high 1st round picks, risks. Of course every player is a risk. I am sure many teams can say they thought they had a sure player but then they ended up being a bust (Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell, Dwayne Jarrett, you see where I am going).. So team’s try to curve the uncertainty of picking a player by doing extensive research, background checks, etc. But in the end even with all that time and effort put into scouting players, a team just sometimes needs to gamble.
The Panthers have the no.1 pick. The Carolina Panthers have drafted relatively well in the first round over the past decade. Those who visit Cat Scratch Reader are hardcore Panther fans that look at every angle and tidbit of information to see where the team is going. The Panther have shown to do a lot of gambling on draft day. Hurney has been known to trade a future first in an effort to gain a player they liked or thought could the team immediately. Hurney made a lot of those draft day decisions, giving up our 1st round picks multiple times, in an effort to "win now". Unfortunately when you are 2-14 with a new head coach and coaching staff in the probably the NFL’s most competitive division, rebuilding becomes more of a challenge. Add the CBA issue and the task is almost daunting. Now the task is to build a consistent Super Bowl contender. That means we may pick players that now are not where they need to be. Building a team starts with its most pivotal position, Quarterback.
We know the media thinks Cam Newton will be the first pick. I believe he will be as well. But the truth of the matter is he will need time to transition to the NFL. We all know that even with his flaws, but he presents the most potential of all the Quarterbacks in the 2011 draft. He has specialness to him that’s hard to explain. Now I am not saying that any of the other Quarterbacks in the draft aren’t talented, but if the Panthers pick Cam then we know it’s a pick that may pay dividends in the future. This will also show a shift in the philosophy of the organization. In the past the Panthers would never even consider a player of Newton’s character issues and jaded past.
But if we draft another Quarterback doesn’t mean that Jimmy Clausen is obsolete. I know we have crucified Jimmy Clausen, but the reality is Clausen was not to start last year. He was supposed to sit and learn while Moore ran the Panthers offense. Unfortunately, Moore was injured and Clausen was forced on the field and ultimately failed. It wasn’t his entire fault, but he did not help his case any either. Therefore, we can all assume that Clausen will be given another chance to compete as a starter.
Just because Clausen played horrible last year doesn’t mean he can’t develop into a good Quarterback. Newton, if drafted by us, could be the next Roethlisberger. That’s why we picked a coaching staff of teachers. There is a plan in place even if we don’t see it. We are building for the future not for the present. Let’s keep that in perspective when considering who the Panthers will draft this year. Sure if we pick Cam Newton or any other player it’s a risk, but it’s a risk we have to take. Whoever holds up that jersey on April 28th will be the new building block for our dynasty. It's long overdue...but it’s time for the Panthers to dare to be great!