Cam Newton is the obvious choice for the first pick in this year’s draft.
The Carolina Panthers had woeful production from the quarterback position in the 2010. Matt Moore looked better than Jimmy Clausen, but that isn’t saying much. Tony Pike wasn’t close to being ready to play.
For most of the season, Clausen had more interceptions returned for touchdowns than actual touchdowns. He didn’t even throw for 200 yards in a game.
With Andrew Luck remaining in college, the Panthers are looking for someone at the No. 1 pick to not only create a buzz but a player who can fill a huge need and become the face of the organization. Newton can do all those things. He is a proven winner, and he went 14-0 in a tough SEC Conference.
Newton, the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner, has a strong arm. He can make the short and intermediate passes. He can throw on the run too.
The 6-6, 250-pounder runs like a gazelle and can make defenders look bad with savvy moves in the open field. He isn’t afraid of contact, either.
Newton isn’t a finished product, but he is the best at his position in the draft. His ability to move will extend plays and allow receivers more time to get open. Other excellent aspects of Newton lie in his ability to focus as well as being a great leader. Winning a national title at the quarterback position is impossible without being able to have players follow.
With all the controversy surrounding him last season, he was well prepared and didn’t let off-the-field issues become a distraction. And withhis size, athleticism and arm strength, Newton can be placed in his own category. He is bigger, faster, stronger and mentally tougher than many young quarterbacks.
The only downside or questions about Newton’s game is how good his decision making is or isn’t.
It is uncertain how well he can make decisions beyond the first read and under center. And there are always questions about quarterbacks operating in a spread offense. But Sam Bradford proved the adjustment can be made from a spread offense to a pro-style offense.
And it is still uncertain how well he can fit the ball in tight spaces consistently. There has not been a quarterback coming out of college that has regularly seen NFL level complex coverages, so it is unfair to judge how successful Newton will or won’t be at reading NFL coverages.
What is certain is that the lockout can harm Newton’s initial development because he will lose out on a minicamp and Organized Training Activities. Newton and other rookie quarterbacks need that time to get ready for training camp and the rest of the NFL season.
The great thing about the Panthers drafting Newton is he will have solid protection. The Panthers have a good running game and good offensive line. The offensive line also has tackle Jeff Otah and guard Duke Robinson returning from injuries.
“With the first pick of the 2011 NFL Draft the Carolina Panthers select Cam Newton from Auburn University.”
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For more about the 2011 NFL Draft, be sure to check out the hornface.com NFL Mock Draft.