Are the links between the Panthers and the draft's most desirable targets a coincidence?

I've gone on the record this year that I think our front office are fairly straight shooter; that is, until they give me cause to think otherwise. While reading Tom Sorensen's article in the Charlotte Observer this weekend in which he mentions the three most likely targets on 'the list' being Cam Newton, A.J. Green and Patrick Peterson it's lead me to wonder if this intentional name dropping of the three most desirable players in the draft has some sort of meta importance.

With the exception of the Arizona Cardinals and Blaine Gabbert the aforementioned three players hold the most value in the NFL draft. The almost always straight shooting Dallas Cowboys are said to be in love with Patrick Peterson, but resigned themselves to realize he's out of reach, the Cincinnati Bengals are said to love A.J. Green and Bills GM Buddy Nix has been open in his praise of Cam Newton. On the periphery are teams like Cleveland, San Francisco and Washington who could also have interest in Green, Peterson and Newton respectively.

More after the jump...

If we're to put on our tin foil hats for a second and assume that everything is meant with misleading pundits and fans then we could see a few different scenarios emerging. As I said, Rivera seems like a straight shooter- but is Marty Hurney? Could one man have a seachange completely within the last 11 months? It seems unlikely.

This time last year the word out of Carolina was that the Panthers were really interested in Tim Tebow, and immediately following the first night of the draft ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the Panthers were furiously trying to trade up with St. Louis to take Texas QB Colt McCoy.

In 2008 Carolina was said to have 'high interest' in Rashad Mendenhall before ultimately taking Jonathan Stewart, leaving Mendenhall on the board.

The point: Sometimes the Panthers will tip their hand at the position(s) they're interested in, but not always the player. This is especially important in the case of Mendenhall v. Stewart, because Mendenhall was the higher rated RB. The more Hurney ignores someone, the more he's interested.

All it takes is one team- this case the Panthers, to have someone rated higher on their board, and this is especially pertinent because the 2011 draft is operating in couplets. I don't know what the Panthers' board is, but many think the drop between the #1 guys at thei position and the #2s is pretty close. This could mean that Gabbert, Jones and Amukumara are in play as much as the top players.

Everything is predicated on the notion that the front office is rife with misinformation, but we'll know for sure in twenty-four days.

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