INDIANAPOLIS - The Carolina Panthers have a new head coach, own the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft and look like they are in the market for a quarterback in the draft.
Ron Rivera, new Carolina coach, told the media on Thursday he's looking for a quarterback.
"We need to identify a franchise quarterback, most certainly," Rivera said. "It's going to come down to who we believe is going to help us the most, regardless of position."
Carolina drafted quarterback Jimmy Clausen in the second round of last year's draft, with the 48th overall pick. Clausen was the NFL's lowest-rated QB last season, not a surprise for a rookie on the league's worst team. But Rivera sure did not sound like he was factoring Clausen into his franchise QB search.
Carolina's division, the NFC South, includes three star quarterbacks - New Orleans' Drew Brees, Atlanta's Matt Ryan and Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman. "Look at all three of those teams and they all three have franchise-style quarterbacks," Rivera said. "I think … we have to identify that and come up with our own."
Rivera was hired from San Diego, where he served as defensive coordiantor for the Chargers.
"I come from a place, having been in San Diego, you've got Philip Rivers, a tremendous quarterback, and we've got to find a situation like that again," Rivera said.
Carolina has a ton of needs. Defensive tackle is one of their biggest, and Auburn DT Nick Fairley is one of the top five players in the draft. Rivera made it clear the Panthers will consider numerous positions with the top pick.
Nevertheless: It's no slam dunk that Auburn's Cam Newton will be on the draft board when the Bills make the third overall pick on April 28.