I have spent much of the offseason reading all the debates on who Carolina should take with the number one draft pick, listened to countless radio shows and been glued to ESPN like white on rice trying to decide the best course of action our beloved Panthers should take in this year's draft. Granted, like the posts before this one I am offering my opinion and despite how things turn out I will support Carolina's decision. That is the true definition of a fan...Supportive of one's team through good times and bad. Below are three options that I feel are better suited instead of going straight for a QB that no one seems to really feel is a consensus number one pick. Here we go...
Marcell Dareus, DT - Alabama: There is no denying he could be the best DT if not player in the entire draft. Carolina has a huge need for upgrades on the defensive line and Dareus would bring the kind of size and talent that has been lacking for the past couple of years. However, I can see Carolina addressing the D-line in later rounds given the plethora of talent at this position. If it weren't for the lockout, I would expect them to try and work a trade that would give them a second round pick. Granted, this may happen using next year's draft pick but given the lack of productivity/utilization from the Armanti Edwards pick, the front office may be a bit leery about making that kind of sacrifice if they pick someone who can't be an immediate contributor in 2011.
AJ Green, WR - UGA: I feel this pick would be a shot in the dark. I wouldn't be against it however, I just don't see it. The reason being is because I really like what Brandon LaFell and David Gettis bring to the offense. Both showed promising flashes and I think that they both still have a high ceiling. Green was a great receiver for three years at Georgia. He made some great catches and he will make an immediate impact to the team who does draft him. If there wasn't a lockout, I would go out on a limb and say that Green would be the number one pick and the Panthers would trade Steve Smith to bring in additional picks. That just isn't the case so I don't see Green wearing the black and blue of Carolina.
Patrick Peterson, CB, - LSU: There are a few questions about the secondary, especially if Richard Marshall says he is not coming back. I think the tandem of Peterson and Captain Munnerlyn would create a defensive nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. The one downside about Peterson is his reluctance to play special teams. I think there is more to this and if anyone has further information, please let me know. In short, I think Carolina needs a team player who is willing to do what it takes to win. Overall, I like this kid and I wouldn't be upset if he were taken first overall.
Conclusion - All three of these guys have garnered a lot of positive feedback and do not appear to have any kind of red flags suggesting they are a potential bust. Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert haven't convinced any of the experts whether its due to the offense they ran in school, questions about their personality or if they will be able to be the face of the franchise who is starting anew. I really wish Carolina could trade down but after everything I have read I don't see that becoming a reality. I had figured that with the front office and ownership that is running the show in Washington, there would be a trade that would allow the Redskins to move up top and Carolina take their 10 spot. Daniel Snyder hasn't exactly shied away from making huge splashes with has been veterans and it might solve the Donovan McNabb fiasco. But, like most other teams sitting in the top ten, they will not take that kind of gamble on a non-consensus number one pick. Personally, I have nothing against drafting a quarterback. My only fear is that the pick will not pan out and the franchise will be sent back 4-5 years. I feel that if Newton or Gabbert is taken number one overall, they need to be starting immediately. The problem is everyone seems to feel they are both development QBs and from what I have been reading, watching and hearing the Panthers want to turn things around now. No one in Panther Nation wants to see Jimmy Clausen 2.0. In my mind, the three I listed on this blog as worthy true number one picks will be immediate starters...no questions asked. The draft is three days away and regardless of who is selected number one, I will support the Panthers and hope they turn things around. Go Panthers!!