It really was a no-brainer entering the final week of the 2010 season for the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have the first overall pick in this years draft and Andrew Luck will change this franchise forever. If he declares. After last nights drubbing of number 13 ranked Virginia Tech, he has nothing left to prove at the college level. Welcome to Charlotte, your going to love this city.
The misfortune of a 2-14 season puts a team’s needs into focus and nothing will ever be as glaring as the quarterback spot. Sure the Panthers have a couple of youngsters and adding Luck isn’t going to take this team to the playoffs next season. It just might the year and years after that. The Panthers play in a very tough neighborhood with warring factions of QB supporters. Matt Ryan in Atlanta, Drew Brees in New Orleans, to a far lesser degree the up and coming Josh Freeman in Tampa Bay. For the Panthers? Nothing.
This is a powerful division and you only need to look at the two teams repping the division in the playoffs to realize that a strong, smart, mobile QB is the answer. Andrew Luck can take this franchise so much farther than Jake Delhomme did. The word “perennial” comes to mind.
Before the Panthers can start counting down the days to Andrew Luck, they need to take care of the surface business first. They have to find a head coach to lead the team. Word on the street is that Jerry Richardson is contemplating the addition of former Redskins great Russ Grimm as the leader. This isn’t a bad move. He doesn’t have the name power of a Cowher or Gruden, or the up and coming stigma of a Jim Harbaugh either. What he does have is coaching experience at the NFL level as a quality assistant. He can also grow this team. Let’s face it, the Panthers are not going to knock on the Super Bowl door next season.
In other words, the Panthers have the time to really become a football team instead of trying to force it overnight.
So while many fans smile at the Stanford route last night and the glimpse of what their future may be with a little “Luck”, they have to jump through hurdle number one before they can get all misty eyed a the sound of Roger Goodell saying, “With the number 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Carolina Panthers have selected…”.