What Are Panthers' Options if Andrew Luck Stays in School?
But what if he stays in school? Luck, who has completed 70 percent of his passes, has not said whether or not he'll enter the NFL Draft.
If he stays, the Panthers have to be careful. An NFL personnel man told me that Arkansas' quarterback Ryan Mallett regressed enough during the season he might not be a prize.
Mallett could wilt in late-game situations -- he did it against Alabama. The NFL guys have also heard about some whining over calls. They are turned off, even if Mallett has a big arm.
What about Jake Locker? It has been hard to tell because the talent around him is not so good. He has been beaten up at Washington. Also, the tape on file the NFL has watched the most (4 for 20 in Washington's first game with Nebraska) was ugly. He had no protection, though, in that game.
What about Cam Newton? Well, you thought Tim Tebow had poor mechanics? Newton's are not so hot, either. He struggles to properly set his feet,and throws with that gunslinger mentality -- as in "I can have my body in any position I want and fling it in there." Problem is, he can't. Or at least, he won't be able to in the NFL.
Case in point: at one of the four Auburn games I covered this season,
Newton tried to throw a simple deep out on one pass from the left hash mark, under no pressure, and the ball bounced.
Can the Panthers afford to take the best player available? They need help in a lot of places. If they grabbed Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley, they could have a nice front next season of Fairley, Charles Johnson (11 sacks), and Greg Hardy.
The Panthers could also use a wide receiver and Georgia's A.J. Green will be sitting there.
Just for kicks, keep your eye on Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder. He graduated in two years. He's big and he can make the throws. The NFL is going to take look at his elbow issue and see if the constant draining of fluid he's had to deal with will lead to long-term wear and tear.
It will be interesting to see Ponder on Friday night in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta.
Mallett and Newton might just come back to college next season. So where does that leave the Panthers if Luck stays in school, too? We'll have to wait and see.