The National Football League Draft is six days away, and the one thing everybody seems to be curious about is who the Carolina Panthers will take with the first overall pick. While it is clear that the Panthers are in desperate need of a quarterback, as neither Jimmy Clausen (last year’s second-round pick) nor Matt Moore is anything close to what the team needs, this year’s draft is a terrible one for the position.

Many mock drafts have Carolina taking Auburn University’s Cam Newton. While Newton has built up impressive credentials, including a Heisman Trophy and a BCS National Championship, he was only a major college starter for one season and comes with a lot of question marks.

Newton infamously left the University of Florida after it was discovered that he had stolen laptops and was alleged to have committed academic fraud. He was quoted during the NFL Combine as saying that he sees himself as “not just a football player, but an entertainer and an icon,” as well as saying, “Not to sound arrogant, but what I did in one year, others couldn’t do in their entire collegiate careers.”

A college player of Newton’s caliber has the right to be confident, and it’s better for a quarterback to be bold than timid. But until he dominates an NFL defense the way he did to his college opponents, he should focus more on his game, which is not at the level of a surefire number one pick. Fortunately for Newton, the rest of the field (the University of Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett, the University of Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert and the University of Washington’s Jake Locker) don’t look like guaranteed future superstars either.

Quarterback is just too uncertain of a position to draft with the top pick, unless the prospect is an absolute stud, which does not apply to anybody in this year’s class. The Panthers should focus on some of the draft’s talented defensive linemen, such as the University of Alabama’s Marcell Dareus, Auburn’s Nick Fairley or Clemson University’s Da’Quan Bowers.

Carolina can help fill the glaring holes in their pass rush left by the departure of Julius Peppers and build a team around defense, much like the version of the team that made Super Bowl XXXVIII. After that, they should look to sign a veteran quarterback next year, unless a lockout or another terrible season leaves them in the position to draft Stanford University quarterback Andrew Luck in 2012.

Gabbert has impressed scouts with his skills, but has not proven capable of running a pro-style offense. Mallett is the most impressive physical specimen in the draft, but he trusts his cannon arm too much and makes dangerous throws.

Chances are low that Newton will bust as spectacularly as Ryan Leaf or JaMarcus Russell, but he’s closer to wildcard than superstar. The Panthers should stay practical.