The Carolina Panthers are on the clock with the first pick in the 2011 NFL draft and they're working away figuring out who the next No. 1 pick will be. Panthers GM Marty Hurney is at the 2011 Senior Bowl this week and told the Charlotte Observer the top two needs for the team in the offseason are quarterback and defensive tackle.
On a quarterback, the crop is a little thinner now that QB Andrew Luck has decided to stay at Stanford. There is no longer a definitive No. 1 quarterback in the draft. Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert and Auburn QB Cam Newton are near the top of the list. The Panthers currently have QB Jimmy Clausen and QB Tony Pike -- neither of whom impressed in 2010.
"We have to put ourselves in a position that we have competition, and do whatever we can to help our chances in the offseason of having consistent play out of that position," Hurney said. "But Jimmy's going to grow, just like any young quarterback. We feel like he's got the tools to be able to succeed in this league. Tony Pike's going to get more work."
On defensive tackle, Auburn DT Nick Fairley comes to mind. He's at the top of a lot of draft boards and the Panthers have had success drafting defensive linemen high in the draft (Julius Peppers in 2002).
"At this point, we have to do more research," Hurney said. "But obviously he's an impact player inside."
They've begun their research digging for some background information on Fairley, his high school coach told the Charlotte Observer. With the (potential) lack of free agency this year, the Panthers may not have any choice but to address these needs through the draft.
Check out SB Nation's Cat Scratch Reader for more on the Panthers draft needs.