The Panthers have been on the clock for several months, and yet it’s still not entirely clear who they’ll take. James Dator of Cat Scratch Reader further confuses us by refusing to take the Cam Newton route:

1. So who’s it going to be? Cam Newton? Blaine Gabbert? Patrick Peterson? I personally think it’ll be Newton but think it should be Peterson…

Wow … isn’t that the $1 million question. Personally, I think the Panthers are desperately trying to trade the pick, but in the end won’t find any suitors. So it becomes Newton or Gabbert in this regard. I know all the messages the organization has been sending out scream ‘CAM NEWTON!’ but this team has a long standing history of two things: Selling a player they’re not interested in around draft time and mitigating character issues wherever possible. Ultimately, I have to go with my gut — and my gut says the Panthers will take the quarterback who is more NFL ready, less of a risk due to his personality and the path not talked about: Blaine Gabbert. They may regret passing on Newton’s upside four years from now, but this is the safer option.

2. Is there any hope for Jimmy Clausen?

That’s entirely up to Jimmy Clausen. In 2010 he didn’t get along with a lot of the veterans, reportedly stopped listening to the coaches and had a crisis of confidence. There’s hope if he’s willing to humble himself, take a back seat and be willing to learn. I’m not so confident he’ll do that.

3. How much does not having a second-round pick change things?

It changes things greatly and expedites the urgency to take a quarterback. In the end, not having that second-rounder could be the primary reason you see a QB go No. 1 overall. If we still had that first pick in the second round you could expect the Panthers to maybe wait and take a Ryan Mallett, Christian Ponder or Colin Kaepernick in the second, but without that safety net I think we’ll see a QB go first.

4. What are the chances they trade out of that top spot?

If the Panthers have their way they want to get out of that spot, but I don’t think they’ll find a suitor. I put it at 20 percent.

5. Can you give me the team’s top three or four needs…

Defensive tackle, quarterback, cornerback, offensive line, in that order.

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