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Thursday, February 10, 2011
With the No. 1 pick, the Panthers take ...

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

Todd McShay’s latest mock draft is out and you can see it all right here.

But let’s focus in on the top pick because it relates directly to the Carolina Panthers. McShay has Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers as Carolina’s pick.

I think that’s entirely possible. Bowers has lots of potential as a pass rusher. Put him with Charles Johnson, Everette Brown and Greg Hardy and the Panthers could have a ferocious pass rush. McShay has defensive tackle Nick Fairley going second to Denver, which is ironic since the Broncos are now coached by former Carolina coach John Fox.

I’ll have more on Carolina’s options at No. 1 in a Friday column, but I think Fairley has to be a consideration for the Panthers. Like all other teams, I think the Panthers are just getting into their draft preparation and haven’t made any decision. We’re still more than two months away from the draft and the thing that intrigues me most about McShay’s mock is that he has Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert going at No. 5 to Arizona.

A lot of people would say Gabbert is a “reach’’ with the first overall pick and that may be true. But I’m wondering if Gabbert is good enough to go to a team desperate for a quarterback at No. 5, why isn’t he good enough to go to a team desperate for a quarterback at No. 1?

Franchise quarterbacks don’t come along often. As Carolina general manager Marty Hurney and new coach Ron Rivera work through all the scenarios over the next couple months, they’re going to be the ones who have to decide if Gabbert is a franchise quarterback.