Posted by Will Brinson
Off-field issues WILL be a problem for a Carolina Panthers team during the draft, even though they are in desperate need of better quarterback play.
Jerry Richardson lamented the play from under center Friday, and with good reason -- Jimmy Clausen was terrible in 2010. But for as bad as he was, he didn't do anything that could cause drama off the field, which is a potential problem for Cam Newton and Ryan Mallett.
Newton's problems are obvious and not necessarily an indictment of the potential championship-winning quarterback. It's just obvious that he has some baggage coming with him.
And the NFL Network's Albert Breer cited sources Friday that indicated there were concerns with Mallett off the field as well.
Those issues will stop Richardson and Panthers GM Marty Hurney from drafting either player, period. They don't like messing with guys that have off-field issues, and they certainly won't pull the trigger on a "franchise quarterback" with potential long-term problems.
Even if that wasn't an issue, though, let's take a look at the last time the Panthers were hiring a head coach. Conveniently, they also had a top-five draft pick that year and, if you'll recall, they took defensive end Julius Peppers.
That's because the team needed defensive help, they'd just hired a defensive-minded coach, Peppers was a stud, and he had a little bit of local drawing power. Some of this already sounds familiar, since Carolina appears to be interviewing only defensive-minded guys.
Now, Da'Quan Bowers might not be a Carolina graduate, and he might not be from North Carolina, but Bamberg, SC (his hometown) is less than three hours south of Charlotte and Clemson University (and their fanbase) is even closer. Bowers is a clear-cut defensive stud and while Charles Johnson had a monster year, he might not exactly be cheap to re-sign.
All of that is to say, for those that want to quickly elevate another quarterback to the top spot in the 2011 NFL Draft simply because Andrew Luck is no longer available, well, it might be wise to heed the old tale about the past teaching us a lesson for the future.
For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.