Carolina’s first on the clock

Who will be the No. 1 pick? (AP Photo)

The NFL draft kicks off tomorrow at 8 p.m. and the Carolina Panthers will be the first team on the board.

There are plenty of possibilities out there, but only one will be the No. 1 selection of the 2011 NFL draft. Here is a look at some of the Panthers’ options.

Quarterback Cam Newton

Newton erupted onto the scene this year, leading Auburn University to a national championship. He has a strong arm that is complimented by great size and an uncanny ability to break free.

The downside to Newton is that he only produced for one season and hasn’t run a pro-style offense.

Wide Receiver A.J. Green

Green is as close to a sure thing that there is in this draft. He has the height (6 feet 4 inches), speed (4.48 40-yard dash time) and production (848 yards and nine touchdowns in only nine games in 2010) that teams love to see out of a wide receiver prospect.

One thing about the former University of Georgia star that worries some evaluators is his weight. Green is a lanky 211 pounds, which is cause for concern of potential injury on passes over the middle.

Defensive Tackle Marcel Dareus

The University of Alabama product went into the off season as the No. 2 defensive tackle behind Auburn’s Nick Fairley. However, after performing well in all his workouts, Dareus has shot up draft boards. When he’s on, Dareus is almost unblockable.

Similar to Green, Dareus has some injury concerns hanging over his head. He was limited last year at Alabama due to a lingering ankle injury and a few other ailments.

Final say

Carolina could try and swing for the fences with Newton, but I think they’ll give Jimmy Clausen one more year to prove he can play. Dareus is good, but picking a defensive tackle at No. 1 with the potential for injury is too risky. So, when the clock stops, I think Carolina will welcome in wide receiver A.J. Green.

Brandon Gould can be reached at gould9@tcnj.edu.