Panthers will take Luck if he enters draft

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It’s turning into a very busy day here in the NFC South. I just filed a story to our news side saying that the Carolina Panthers will take Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with the first overall pick if Luck decides to enter the 2011 draft.

I’ve also got an update coming in a few minutes on Atlanta offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey being a hot candidate for several head-coaching jobs, although Carolina does not appear to be one of them. I’ll be back with the Mularkey item in a bit.

But let’s talk a little bit about the logic behind Luck. The Panthers are hoping he decides to enter the draft, and he has until Jan. 15 to make that decision. Two team officials said they view Luck as the kind of franchise quarterback they would not be able to pass on and they wouldn’t consider trading the pick.

Although there has been speculation that Luck and Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh could be a package deal, Panthers owner Jerry Richardson said earlier Tuesday that the team has not had any contact with Harbaugh. Team officials said they don’t expect any change in that situation.