Another sign Panthers out of Luck?

We noted a few days ago the growing speculation and even some actual reports that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck may not enter the 2011 draft.

There is even more strength to that today as my friend and former teammate Scott Fowler, who is in Miami to do a profile on Luck during Orange Bowl week, reports that a source close to the Stanford program said Luck is leaning toward staying in school.

The source told Fowler nothing is definite and that a lot can happen between now and Jan. 15, when underclassmen have to declare if they plan to enter the draft. But Fowler quotes the source as saying if the decision had to be made right now, Luck would stay in school.

This is hugely significant because the Carolina Panthers currently hold the No. 1 pick in the draft and the universal assumption is that Luck would be the first player chosen, if he is in the draft. But what if Luck’s not there?

There has been some speculation Auburn quarterback Cam Newton could enter the draft and some people say he could be a No. 1 pick. But some scouts I talk to say that’s too high for Newton. I haven’t studied Newton in detail, but he has looked tremendous in the Auburn games I’ve seen.

But what if Luck doesn’t enter the draft? And what if Newton stays in school or the Panthers (and whoever is coaching them) don’t think he’s worthy of the No. 1 overall pick?

Well, the Panthers might have to look hard at other positions or they might have to look to trade down and add some extra picks. If there is not a quarterback worth taking at No. 1, I favor the trading-down scenario. The Panthers need help in lots of areas and having an extra pick or two might be very valuable in the building process.