2011 SB Nation NFL Mock Draft: Round 1, Pick 1

Our annual 2011 NFL Mock Draft, with picks made by each of SB Nation's NFL team bloggers, is in full swing. The first pick in to the podium: the Carolina Panthers, at No. 1 overall, of course!

With the first overall pick in the 2011 SB Nation NFL Writers Mock Draft, the Carolina Panthers select Blaine Gabbert, quarterback, Missouri.

'Jaxon' of CatScratchReader.com explains the choice, and our own Dan Kadar reacts to it, after the jump. Make sure you're grading this pick for the Panthers, and checking out Cat Scratch Reader for all of your Panthers needs.

Jaxon explains: In a year with no clear top prospect and no viable trade partner, the Panthers instead roll the dice and select what we hope is our future franchise QB. Though the Panthers have not openly given up on Jimmy Clausen, it’s obvious they lack confidence in Clausen in the near term.

Gabbert also isn’t without his detractors, and his 2010 statistics leave something to be desired. Yet, he has all the physical tools of a franchise QB and demonstrated at his pro day that concerns about his footwork and arm strength are unfounded. More importantly, he is Ron Rivera’s type of guy between the ears. Smart, confident and a natural leader, Gabbert will be a quick study that can assume the reins of the Panthers' offense sooner than later.

Gabbert may not be the best prospect in the draft, but short of a sudden trade for Kevin Kolb, the Panthers' need for a franchise-caliber prospect at QB outweighs the risk. Gabbert’s humble upbringing and polished persona will be the face of the Panthers franchise for many years to come.

Dan Kadar reacts: It seems likely that Carolina is going to choose either Gabbert or Cam Newton. The issue will come down to which the Panthers believes carries less risk. You can make the argument that both carry an equal amount of risk. Gabbert doesn't have great arm strength and had less-than-desirable stats in 2010, while Newton comes from a gimmick offense and has only been a proven star for one season.

If you value their risk equally, it's hard to see passing up on Newton for Gabbert. The ceiling Newton possesses is as high, or higher, than any player in the 2011 NFL Draft. It's hard to see Gabbert being any less of a risk, but it's easy to see him being less of a superstar. [Blaine Gabbert Scouting Report]

With that, the Denver Broncos - and our friends at Mile High Report - are now on the clock.

Mocking the Draft's Top 5 Remaining Prospects

OVR Name Pos. College Report
1 A.J. Green WR Georgia scouting report
2 Patrick Peterson CB LSU scouting report
3 Da'Quan Bowers DE Clemson scouting report
4 Nick Fairley DT Auburn scouting report
5 Julio Jones WR Alabama scouting report

2011 SB Nation NFL Writers' Mock Draft - RESULTS

Rd. No. Team Player Pos. College Link
1 1 Carolina Panthers Blaine Gabbert QB Missouri
2 Denver Broncos
3 Buffalo Bills
4 Cincinnati Bengals
5 Arizona Cardinals
6 Cleveland Browns
7 San Francisco 49ers
8 Tennessee Titans
9 Dallas Cowboys
10 Washington Redskins
11 Houston Texans
12 Minnesota Vikings
13 Detroit Lions
14 St. Louis Rams
15 Miami Dolphins
16 Jacksonville Jaguars
17 New England Patriots
18 San Diego Chargers
19 New York Giants
20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
21 Kansas City Chiefs
22 Indianapolis Colts
23 Philadelphia Eagles
24 New Orleans Saints
25 Seattle Seahawks
26 Baltimore Ravens
27 Atlanta Falcons
28 New England Patriots
29 Chicago Bears
30 New York Jets
31 Pittsburgh Steelers
32 Green Bay Packers
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