The argument of need vs. best player has coursed through CSR over the last few months. At this point everyone has cemented their favorite guys and who they'd like to see the Panthers target. That discussion will continue to rage up until the draft and beyond, but today let's imagine the team was picking No.1.
Here's the only stipulation: No trades. Frankly, it's the easy and lazy way out of making a tough decision. If Carolina was up that high then the logical move would be to bait a trade with a QB-hungry team, but that doesn't prompt good discussion.
In looking at the issue I'm left with three prospects that are nearly impossible to choose between.
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
If you're going to adhere purely to the letter of the law, then Clowney is the best player in this draft. The seemingly-endless tear down continues and had made people down, but in my book he's poised to be the best pass rusher the league has seen in the last decade.
Projecting him to Carolina is complicated by the reality there are already two really good pass rushers here. That said, taking Clowney could allow for Greg Hardy to be moved via trade, or simply allowed to walk after 2014. That may not seem ideal, but it gives the Panthers a whole lot of available cap space they wouldn't have by re-signing Hardy.
Would I do it? Probably not. Like I said, he's my favorite single prospect in the draft, but it's hard to overlook the ramifications of completely ignoring glaring needs.
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
This is a situation where I think Robinson is going to fall farther than he deserves purely out of teams taking quarterbacks early. He's positioned to be an extremely good left tackle in the NFL and has a rare combination of size and agility that's not often seen out of prospects.
There is no greater need for the Panthers than at tackle. Right now it's still Byron Bell's world, which is petrifying. The organization might believe in him, but I sure don't. Landing Robinson would be a dream come true that allows Cam Newton to be protected for the next decade.
Would I do it? Yes, yes, yes. Sprinting to the podium and doing a little dance afterwards. Ugh, now I'm slightly depressed because this isn't possible.
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Taking a wide receiver with the first overall pick would be a bold move, but Dave Gettleman is good at making bold moves. Watkins might not be the best player available at No.1, but if you listen to smart people they think he can have a similar impact to A.J. Green and Julio Jones.
Plug him in and watch your offense flourish. It makes so much sense with Steve Smith gone and would be a vital complement to anything Carolina is trying to achieve through the air.
Would I do it? No. That sounds like a contradiction to the above paragraphs, but in Mike Shula's offense it's hard to see how a rookie receiver is able to make an impact. I really like Watkins, a lot -- but the idea of getting a left tackle is so much more reassuring than getting a top receiver.
What are your thoughts? is there anyone else who should be included in this list?