In fact, Rivera said the same thing general manager Marty Hurney told me a couple weeks ago -- the Panthers currently have eight to 10 guys they’re looking at. The real process of narrowing down the choices starts with the combine.
Conventional wisdom is that the Panthers will take either Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley or Clemson defensive end Da’Quan Bowers with the first pick. Taking Newton or Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert appear to be alternatives.
Also, here’s one other scenario that can’t be ruled out. I’m seeing some draft gurus putting North Carolina’s Robert Quinn at the top of the list of defensive ends. Quinn has amazing physical skills and reminds some of another North Carolina product who the Panthers drafted with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2002 draft -- Julius Peppers.
But Quinn comes with some questions. He had a (benign) brain tumor while in high school and missed the 2010 season as North Carolina went through a scandal with allegations of players receiving gifts from agents.