Panthers thin, so quarterback seems inevitable

cchandler@charlotteobserver.comApril 14, 2010 

  • Rank

    School

    Ht

    Wt

    Proj. Rd

    Comment

    1. Sam Bradford

    Oklahoma

    6-4 1/4

    236

    1

    Accuracy compared to ex-Cowboys great Troy Aikman

    2. Jimmy Clausen

    Notre Dame

    6-2 5/8

    222

    1

    Very talented and played in pro system but some question his leadership.

    3. Tim Tebow

    Florida

    6-2 3/4

    236

    1-2

    Intangibles off the charts but opinions vary widely on pro potential

    4. Colt McCoy

    Texas

    6-1 1/8

    216

    1-2

    Can winningest quarterback in NCAA history become another Drew Brees?

    5. Dan LeFevour

    Central Michigan

    6-3 1/4

    230

    2-4

    Competitive leader who passed for 12,905 yards and 102 touchdowns over four seasons

    6. Tony Pike

    Cincinnati

    6-5 3/4

    223

    2-4

    Needs to add weight and maturity but natural passing skills give him huge upside

    7. John Skelton

    Fordham

    6-5 3/8

    243

    4-6

    Big frame and strong arm have drawn comparisons to Ravens' Joe Flacco

    8. Jarrett Brown

    West Virginia

    6-2 7/8

    224

    5-6

    Multi-skilled, one-year starter after replacing current Dolphin Pat White

    9. Jonathan Crompton

    Tennessee

    6-3

    222

    5-6

    All-star game and workouts have raised his stock significantly

    10. Levi Brown

    Troy

    6-3 1/2

    229

    6-7

    Richmond transfer has nice arm and improvisational skills

    PANTHERS PERSPECTIVE: A huge need area for Carolina since new starter Matt Moore is the only player at the position on the roster with any NFL experience. The Panthers are looking for a quarterback who can challenge Moore to become the team's long-term answer. Look for them to draft a quarterback as early as the second round and probably no later than the fourth, especially since they don't have a fifth-round pick. Coach John Fox and general manager Marty Hurney weigh intangibles and leadership heavily when evaluating quarterbacks, so whoever they pick will need to be extremely strong in those areas.

    LOCAL CONNECTIONS: Former Appalachian State superstar Armanti Edwards is regarded as more of a prospect as a slot receiver and kick returner by most teams, but his passing workouts have been impressive. He's just under 5-foot-11, which is short for the position in the pros, but he hopes to be able to remain a quarterback. Pro Football Weekly ranks him the No.5 prospect at quarterback, but other services list him as about the No.20 receiver. Duke's Thaddeus Lewis figures to be an undrafted free agent.

    SLEEPER: Eastern Washington's Matt Nichols' stock has been on the rise since he passed for 1,662 yards, 16 touchdowns and only one interception during his team's final four games last season. Charles Chandler

With the opening of the NFL draft eight days away, the Carolina Panthers have fewer games started by quarterbacks on their roster than any other team - and it's not close.

Matt Moore has eight starts and the only other quarterback under contract, Hunter Cantwell, hasn't taken a snap during a regular-season game.

The next-lowest number in the league is 19 combined starts for the St. Louis Rams, who recently released long-time starter Marc Bulger and are expected to take Oklahoma's Sam Bradford with the draft's No.1 pick.

The New York Jets (24 starts) and Detroit Lions (27) are next, but both used top-five picks last year to select quarterbacks Mark Sanchez and Matthew Stafford, respectively.

Unlike the Rams, Jets and Lions, the Panthers aren't ready to declare they've found their franchise quarterback.

Carolina hasn't signed a veteran free agent even though a player with 31 career starts who was on the roster the past two years, Josh McCown, is willing to re-sign at a bargain price.

The Panthers also haven't shown interest in pursuing Washington's Jason Campbell (52 starts), who recently was supplanted when the Redskins traded for former Philadelphia star Donovan McNabb. Carolina passed on McNabb and now-relocated former Cleveland quarterbacks Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson

It now appears questionable whether Carolina will sign a veteran quarterback. Team officials are said to be working with a tight internal budget into which even a modest veteran's salary might not fit. Rookies, other than top draft picks, are more cost-efficient.

Therefore, as the draft approaches, the Panthers are in the market to find a player who can at least compete with Moore to become the quarterback of the future.

Given the urgency of the situation following the release of seven-year starter Jake Delhomme last month, this is uncharted territory for the Panthers during the tenures of general manager Marty Hurney and coach John Fox.

They've drafted a quarterback once during eight years, selecting Louisville's Stefan LeFlors in the 2005 fourth round when Delhomme was entrenched as the starter. LeFlors is playing in the Canadian Football League.

But the Panthers won't necessarily use their first pick, the 48th overall in Round2, on a quarterback. They also have pressing needs at receiver and defensive line.

If the Panthers choose a quarterback with their first pick, it's likely to be either Florida's Tim Tebow, Texas' Colt McCoy or perhaps Cincinnati's Tony Pike.

Tebow and McCoy, in particular, are natural leaders who score high in intangibles, qualities Fox and Hurney consider essential.

Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour is another strong leader who should be available in the third or fourth round, with possibilities after that including Troy's Levi Brown and Fordham's John Skelton.

As for Moore, the Panthers like what they've seen from him. As an undrafted rookie in 2007, he was 2-1 starting the final three games. Last season, he was 4-1 after taking over for Delhomme, passing for eight touchdowns and one interception.

The performance allowed Carolina to finish 8-8 after a 4-7 start with Delhomme. The rally did wonders for Moore's standing in the eyes of the coaching staff and led to the decision to declare him the starter.

"I like his mindset," Fox said of Moore last month at the NFL meetings in Orlando, Fla. "I saw him improve. I thought in the last three games, he was playing about as good as anybody. He had about a 93 quarterback rating (actually 98.5). We had hovered around 59 most of the season, (so) that gave us a chance to win games. Hopefully, he can do that moving forward."

Fox made it clear, however, that more help was on the way.

"There will be somebody else definitely in the mix," he said. "We always want competition."

For the Panthers, that's even more of a need than a want.

Charles Chandler: 704-358-5123.

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