Perhaps it's by virtue of the fact that the Panthers have the #1 overall pick, but thus far this offseason ESPN's Pat Yasinkas has done a great job not only covering the Carolina Panthers, but for trying to debunk a few nasty rumors about the organization and its fanbase.
Last week Pat Y discussed the need for the Carolina Panthers to take Cam Newton, and today he's focused in again on the QB position for Carolina in terms of how the other three successful teams in the NFC South all shared one thing, getting a franchise QB early in the tenure of their new coach. However, he did offer some interesting tidbits that could shed light on why QB is getting so much play in the Panthers' front office.
Tip of the hat to Blacmomba for the fanshot that led to this piece
Yasinkas doesn't appear quite as sold on Newton definitely being the pick as some other writers, as he still believes it could be either Newton or Gabbert:
"there are pretty good indications the Panthers are at least giving very serious thought to using the pick on Newton or Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert.
Nothing's changed in my eyes and my ears tell me nothing's changed in how the Panthers are thinking."
He continued by discussing the other three teams in the league, New Orleans, Atlanta and Tampa Bay and how all three have enjoyed recent success due to acquiring Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Josh Freeman quickly. I can't say I really disagree with the methodology behind this, but this is often countered by some who say "The Panthers wont take a QB because Hurney is still the GM, and Hurney picked Jimmy Clausen".
Yasinkas addressed this too in his article:
"New Carolina coach Ron Rivera comes from a defensive background. But, in his hiring process, it was established the organization now realizes the NFL is a quarterback-driven league. General manager Marty Hurney is fully committed to giving Rivera the kind of quarterback he needs to win."
To me, this is the most illuminating statement from the piece. This affirms that we are seeing a true seachange in the organization when it comes to the QB position and debunks the notion the Panthers wont look to take a QB early. This is important because it directly counters the Pro Football Weekly report that the Panthers would not look to take a QB early because of the mindset of their front office.
Basically, there is a diametric shift between the old guard and the new one. For Nawrocki and Edholm they are basing their argument on the notion of what Carolina has done in the past. Darin Gantt and Pat Yaskinas are the opposite side of the coin acknowledging the team is operating differently than it has in the past.
If Hurney is truly committed to giving Rivera the QB he needs, then it would explain the carte blanche nature of QB evaluation we have seen thus far, and in turn put the ball squarely in Rivera's court when it comes to selecting which QB he needs to be successful. The Panthers' head coach has been affusive in his praise of both Newton and Gabbert saying the following.
"As far as skill set goes, the young man has tremendous physical talents. He's got natural size, the ability to run, a tremendous arm, and a pretty good pocket presence already. He's well on his way, but again, we've got to go through that process. We're going to be at his workout, we'll bring him in obviously and visit with him and go through that whole process to get a feel for what he already knows and how well he'll learn."
"He had good presence. That's probably the biggest thing I remember was his presence. We went to dinner with him first, then we had an opportunity to visit with him in the classroom. And he had a pretty relaxed way about him. He was confident. That was interesting. Then kind of seeing how he was when he came in the next morning to work out, and watch him interact with the people that were there. He was solid. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but he was good."
It's a clear case of tangibles vs. intangibles and the longer this drags on the more it becomes clear that trying to make an early prediction of what will happen is a futile effort, even if it makes the next month easier for fans.