Long time reader of the blog. First ever post...please be gentle.....
Since their inception, the Carolina Panthers have only held the #1 overall pick once before. Then G.M. Bill Polian managed to find a willing trade partner in the Bengals and in the deal aquired additional pick(s) that were then used to fill holes in the roster of his new team. While the Cam Newton bandwagon seems to be rolling along faster and stronger than ever, I would argue that G.M. Marty Hurney has the rare opportunity to do the same thing as Polian by trading the pick andthus continuing to build a team that will contend for championships for years to come.
This will not be an easy task. Most of the experts agree that there is not a player in this year's draft that has seperated themselves from the pack to become the undisputed #1 pick. Scouts Inc. most recent player rankings have 10 players atop their list seperated by 2 points or less. Because of this and the uncertainty surrounding a new CBA and possible rookie wage scale, trading high draft picks and the potential high priced contracts andsigning bonuses that go along with them could be more difficult than ever. The question remains, how do the Carolina Panthers entice a team to make a move to #1 and still get overall value for the pick ?
Since there is not a so-called undisputed #1 pick, the only way to entice a tean to move up and risk having to pay that big contract is to make them believe they are getting true value in doing so. Combined with the feeling that they are doing so to guarentee they get " their guy " might just be enough to get someone to make the Panthers an acceptable offer. For argument sake, I am going to focus on the top 6 teams in the draft order and what the Panthers might ask or expect in return. As you will read, I think the Bills & Bengals are the only 2 real viable options.
Picking second, the Denver Broncos. I really dont see this as a viable option. All the talk thusfar out of Denver has been focused either on taking a top defensive player or trading down with a team looking for one of the top 2 QB's. I just can't see John Fox giving anything he doesn't have to to his former employer. They can sit tight and get "their guy" or trade down and accomplish the same thing the Panthers may be tryign to do.
Picking third, The Buffalo Bills. Since the retirmentof Jim Kelly, Buffalo has struggled to find consistant play from the QB position. 2nd year head coach Chan Gailey employs an offensive scheme that many believe is suited for an athelete like Cam Newton. The NFL Draft Value Chart shows a difference of 800 points between the #1 & #3 overall pick. Buffalo owns the 2ndpick of round two valued at 560 points. If the Panthers were to "eat" the remaining difference of 240 points ( the equivilantof a mid 3rd round pick ) would that be enough percieved value to make Buffalo Jump.
Picking 4th, The Cincinatti Bengals. Carson Palmer wants out and is threatening retirement. Chad Ochocinco is in the last year of his contract and has made no secret of his man crush on Bill Bellichek. One of these two potential vacancies must be addressed. Staying at # 4 means there are 3 chances for "their guy" to be taken off the board before they pick. Thats a scary feeling. The NFL Draft Value Chart shows a difference of 1200 points between the #1 and # 4 picks. If the Panthers were to accept an offer of the Bengals 1st, 2nd and 4th round picks there would be a net difference of 556 points. Yes it's a lot for the Panthers to absorb in the deal, but the 3 picks would go a long way in filling out a roster with many needs.
Picking 5th, The Arizona Cardinals. Quarterback, and outside linebacker are their two major areas of need. While rumored to prefer Gabbert over Newton, most believe that Arizona is a major player in the Kevin Kolb sweepstakes, but without a new CBA before the draft Arizona can't offer picks in this years draft as part of a trade. Larry Fitzgerald has gone on record saying the Cardinals shouldn't draft a rookie quarterback. In a contract year, the Cardinals will will want to keep Fitz happy. Arizona would most likely have to offer their 1st, 2nd and 4th round picks this year as well as their1st rounder in 2012 to make a trade with the Panthers. If they think they can get Kolb inthe future I would expect then to hold their position or maybe even try to trade down a spot or two, with a team desperatly looking to draft one of the remaining top two QB's, thus lessening the burden of a potential future trade for Kolb.
Picking 6th, The Cleveland Browns. A.J. Green has to be the player that the Browns view as "their guy." Colt McCoy needs targets. Green is already drawing comparrisons to Calvin Johnson, but is that enough. The Bengals would probably be the only team ahead of them that would take Green but they also have to be concerned with a team trading up to get in front of them. For what it would cost them, this is a chance I think they will take.
If they are able to swing one of the above mentioned trades with the Bills or Bengals. I am strongly in favor of trading the #1 pick and in my opinion Hurneyhas to find a way to make it happen. Trading back withthe Bills could net the Panthers a high second round pick that they lost in last years questionable draft day trade that netted Armanti Edwards. Would two players such as Blaine Gabbert and possibly a DT like Marvin Austin not be better for this team than Cam Newton. In the Cincy scenario we could potentially draft AJ Green, Marvin Austin and still have two third and two fourth round picks to address other areas of need sucha as O-Line, Another D Tackle, and Cornerback.
Was Clausen so horrible that we have to give up on him after one year.....thats debatable. But with a healthy O-Line, the return of D'Lo, the aquisition of Shockey, a 2nd year of experience for WR's LaFell and Gettis, and most importantly a new coaching staff made up of of teachers who brings with them a new attacking offensive scheme can we justify giving up on him after only one year.