2011 Draft Special: Pick #1- Carolina Panthers

When you have the number one overall pick, no matter what sport or draft you are in, you take THE best player in the draft, independent of position.

While Jimmy Claussen looked awful in 2010, it's hard to throw to receivers who can't run routes or catch passes. It's even harder to complete passes when you're on your back before you attempt the throw. I'm not 100% convinced that Jimmy Claussen can't turn in to, at the very minimum, a Joe Flacco type quarterback. Claussen was highly rated coming out of high school and college and I trust any quarterback that learns how to run a pro style offense from Charlie Weis (see e.g., Tom Brady, Matt Cassel).

With that being said, if Andrew Luck was in this draft the Panthers should have drafted Luck without hesitation. I mean, look what Sam Bradford did with a bottom five receiving corps and a sub par offensive line.

But sadly, Luck is not in this draft. So instead, the Panthers are left with defensive tackle Nick Fairley from Auburn. This is like the 2009 Lions being "stuck" with Donkey Kong Suh. While I'm sure it's not fun to see your franchise quarterback go back to Stanford and then watch John Harbuagh's 49ers take a nose dive in the next NFL season played so *they* get Luck; however, Fairley is not a half bad consolation prize. Not at all.

Last year the Carolina Panthers had a top ten pass defense, but where they struggled was with the run. According to Football Outsiders, the Panthers ranked 8th against the pass but 22nd against the run. Fairley is a great big body to help close gaps in opponents offensive lines. That and a great defensive coordinator turned head coach in Ron Rivera will help this Panthers defense become much better than you think in 2011/ the next NFL season played.

Last year, the Panthers offensive line ranked 27th in run blocking and 31st in pass blocking defense. That line will immediately improve with a healthy Jeff Otah but another offensive lineman to complement Otah will also improve the worst ranked offense in 2010.

The Panthers traded away their second round pick so after pick one they don't pick again until pick 65. At that point, there is no need to draft another quarterback, because chances are that player will be no better than Claussen. It would be helpful just to pick the best available again. Like I said earlier, when you only win one game- you need EVERYTHING.

Carolina's Needs:

- Defensive End

Carolina ranked 20th in sacks last year. Losing Julius Peppers tends to do that to a D-line

- Wide Receiver

While I don't think Steve Smith has completely fallen off of the face of the Earth, he's clearly not performing as well as he used to. I mean, look how well he did with crappy Jake Delhomme throwing to him? Carolina either needs another receiver to complement Smith or another receiver to replace Smith completely.

-Offensive Line

The best way to improve an offense is to improve the line


Look at Rivera's systems in both Chicago and San Diego- the system runs through (no pun intended) the linebackers. I have a feeling Rivera can pull a Bill Belichick and find linebackers off of waiver to fit his system, but this team has holes everywhere on defense