Given the players available, and the Panthers current position with the No. 1 overall pick, I think this is the best selection. Gabbert isn't as good of a prospect as some other top picks but he comes with little baggage and a good work ethic.
Cat Scratch Reader explains the pick:
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.
Check out Mocking The Draft for the reaction to the pick. I like it because, as MTD points out, you have examine the risk involved. I believe Gabbert comes with little risk relative to another potential top pick, QB Cam Newton. Newton's ceiling may be a little higher but for a franchise that simply cannot miss on this pick, Gabbert is the safer choice.