Panthers’ GM: “This is a quarterback league.”

Auburn Tigers Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Cam Newton warms up for the Tigers game against the Oregon Ducks at the BCS Championship game at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ, January 10,2011. UPI/Art Foxall

While appearing on FOX Sports Radio with the Charlotte Observer’s Darin Gantt, Panthers’ general manager Marty Hurney suggested that Carolina will take a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick on Thursday.

“This is a quarterback league,” Hurney said. “Look at the order of the draft. The ones who have them are picking low, and the ones who don’t are pick high.”

Hurney went onto say that “this has nothing to do with Jimmy Clausen.” It’s noteworthy that Gantt is convinced that the Panthers will take Cam Newton with the top pick, although that conflicts with Tony Softli’s prediction over the weekend that Carolina will take Alabama DT Marcell Dareus. Softli is a former high-ranking executive with the Panthers, so take his Dareus prediction for what it’s worth.

Hurney could be setting up a smokescreen with his comments about quarterbacks, although the only benefit there would be if some team were interested in trading up for Newton. If no team is, then there’s really no reason for Hurney to be coy about the Panthers’ draft plans at this point. It’s not like someone is going to sneak up ahead of them seeing as how they hold the first overall pick.

My gut says Newton and when I release my final mock draft on Thursday, I don’t imagine that you’ll see anyone else’s name written into that top spot.

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