My advice to Panthers: Take Peterson

Carolina Panthers general manager Marty Hurney hasn’t asked me, and something tells me he won’t.

But if he did, my advice would be simple.

Forget about Cam Newton and forget about Marcell Dareus.

Rather, take that No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s NFL draft and select the guy who’s going to come in and make the most profound impact over the next 10 seasons -- LSU’s Patrick Peterson.

There’s no such thing as a sure thing in any draft. But the closest thing to that in this draft is Peterson, a 218-pound freak of an athlete who can lock down on the best receivers in the game and then turn around and change the game with an electrifying punt return for a touchdown.

To me, Newton is a serious reach with the No. 1 overall pick.

He had an unbelievable season a year ago at Auburn, and I could see using a pick later in the first round to get him, especially if he gets in the right system. But no way would I take him with the first pick in the draft.

Dareus would be No. 3 on my board, just a shade behind Auburn defensive tackle Nick Fairley.

But my clear No. 1 would be Peterson, who just also happens to be No. 1 on Mel Kiper’s final Big Board.

As I’ve said many times after watching Peterson play the past three seasons in the SEC, there just aren’t many guys like him anywhere on the planet.

He’s pushing 220 pounds, runs a 4.34 in the 40-yard dash, tackles like a linebacker and has that edge about him all the great defenders possess.

He’s also one of those rare guys who could play cornerback, nickel or safety in the NFL and be a star at all three positions. And if he gets his hands on the ball, good luck in getting him on the ground.

On special teams, Peterson’s a big play waiting to happen. He led the SEC last season in kickoff return average and punt return average and took two punts back for touchdowns.

When you’re picking first in the NFL draft, you’re looking for a guy who can come in and transform your franchise, a guy who can be a cornerstone for years to come.

That guy wore No. 7 for the LSU Tigers the past three seasons.

If the Panthers are smart, he’ll be wearing one of their uniforms next season.