Today, the Carolina Panthers officially became the sole owners of the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. After losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday night and falling to 2-13, while having the Denver Broncos and Cincinnati Bengals improving to 4-11 this afternoon, the Panthers will have the worst record in the NFL regardless of what happens next weekend.
The Panthers have played ugly all season long, their only wins coming against the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals. With so many holes on their team, there is much speculation as to how they will use this year’s first pick.
They have never used the first overall pick in team history. The only first overall pick they had was in 1995, which they traded to the Cincinnati Bengals. That pick was used to draft eventual bust, Penn State running back Ki-Jana Carter.
The earliest pick they have ever used was the 2002 second overall pick, which they used to pick defensive end Julius Peppers of North Carolina. He eventually became one of the greatest players in Panthers’ history.
It is believed that the first overall pick should be Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck if he decides to declare for the draft on January 15 after his team plays in the Orange Bowl. However, the Panthers drafted their supposed quarterback of the future last year with Jimmy Clausen in the second round, so it’s questionable if they will be willing to use the pick on a quarterback.
I think that the Panthers will either use the pick on one of the other premier players who could be in the draft such as defensive end Da’Quan Bowers of Clemson or wide receiver A.J. Green of Georgia, or trade the pick to someone such as the Minnesota Vikings, Cincinnati Bengals or San Francisco 49ers, who will all be desperately looking to add a quarterback of the future like Luck.
However, picking Luck is definitely a possibility, as he is already being considered one of the best quarterback prospects to come into the NFL in recent history. He has drawn comparisons to Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts and Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons.