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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Blaine Gabbert Heading To Carolina Panthers

The latest 2011 NFL Mock Draft has been unveiled over at SB Nation and there’s a new surprise awaiting at the top of the draft order: Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert.

After months of seeing various defensive ends or tackles at the top of the big board, it’s clear that the weight of the quarterback position is taking hold after the combine. While teams might like the luxury of taking a cornerback like Patrick Peterson from LSU or a defensive end like Da’Quan Bowers from Clemson, if a team like the Panthers need a quarterback, they simply have to go after him.

Current Panthers starter Jimmy Clausen isn’t going to like this news, of course, but given the performance of last year’s second round choice from Notre Dame, who can blame the Panthers for trying again. With a new head coach in Ron Rivera, there’s no official ties to last year’s selections and Clausen needs to feel that pressure. Even if Clausen steps up and Gabbert sits a bit, you can ask the Eagles how that feels to be in the driver’s seat on stocking quarterbacks when discussing trade possibilities.