NFL Draft : What Teams Make Most Sense for Cam Newton and How High Will He Go?

Art VandelayCorrespondent IDecember 21, 2010

Everyone and their brother are trying to figure out where and how early Cam Newton - Heisman Trophy winner and college football phenom will go. 

I have already, to what some surely believe have notoriously and foolishly stated that I thought he will go in the 3rd or 4th round. 

I've given my reasoning here.

After reading and listening to some scouts and experts, as well as general opinion, it seems abundantly clear that Newton will be gone before the 3rd round, largely because of so many teams' needs at quarterback. 

One point Todd McShay brings up in the posted video, which hasn't gotten enough attention, is that Newton, like Tebow is going to be a project. 

Because of this, it will be almost impossible for any team to take him early in the 1st round.

Any team drafting early in the first round is going to have several pressing needs to be addressed in the draft; since the current NFL system punishes coaching regimes who draft developmental projects for the future, teams with early draft picks have to address team needs with their early picks that will help right away.

So any team who takes Newton will need to be serviceable at QB, but not set for the future.

The teams that meet this criteria and don't have as many glaring flaws (relatively speaking) will be his likely landing point.

Here are the teams who could possibly need to address the quarterback position within the next few years, and are the most likely potential suitors for Newton:

Carolina, Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, San Fransisco, Cincinnati, Miami, Oakland, Kansas City, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Minnesota, Washington, Seattle, and Denver.

So which of these teams is most likely to roll the dice with Newton?

Carolina - Unlikely.  They'll likely have the luxury of grabbing #1 prospect Andrew Luck.

Buffalo - They do have a serviceable quarterback, but have many other concerns all over the place that they need to address.  Ryan Fitzpatrick probably isn't a franchise quarterback, but it seems improbable that they will be able to look to a player like Newton before the second or third round.

Cleveland - They have many other concerns that need to be addressed early in this draft, and Colt McCoy may be their quarterback of the future.  I'm not sure that he's a franchise quarterback, but I'm not sure he isn't either.

Detroit - The Lions have many other concerns, and have obviously already invested in their franchise quarterback.  They certainly aren't going to give up on him this early.

San Fransisco - The 49ers might be Newton's best chance to go early in the 1st round, but they might feel that their pick will be too high to take Newton here, and they may be more enamored by a different, more pro-ready quarterback, like Ryan Mallett or Jake Locker if they're available.  Also, the current coaching staff is under extreme pressure to start performing better, and they are allowed another season in the Bay area, they probably don't have enough time to wait for a player like Newton to develop, making it less likely that they use a high pick on him.

Cincinnati - The Bengals are another good chance of taking Newton early, but they have other more, pressing needs, there are better, safer prospects to take, and their probable top three pick may be too high to use on someone who is going to be a non-impact player for a couple years.

Miami - Miami has clearly lost faith in Chad Henne, and Henne has clearly lost his confidence.  Miami will certainly need to find a new option at quarterback for next season.  Unfortunately for Newton, he isn't going to be the answer for the Dolphins for the next couple years.  It is possible they make a play for a potential serviceable quarterback like Shaun Hill, and then draft Newton and develop him as their quarterback for the future.  Still they have other pressing needs on the O-line and at running back, as well as some other minor defensive issues, and this coaching staff may not have time to wait for Newton to develop.

Oakland - To me, Oakland seems like the best fit for Newton.  They can wait for him to develop, as Jason Campbell should still be serviceable for a couple more years, plus Newton is the kind of player Al Davis goes after.  With no first round pick, the Raiders will have to hope that Newton falls to them in the 2nd round. If they're high on him but don't think he'll be available in the middle of the 2nd, they're going to have to trade into the 1st to pick him up, which is extremely risky to do for a developmental project.  It should also be noted, quarterback is not as big a need for them, and other more pressing needs may supersede him here.

Kansas City - If there's any team that wants to take that next step in the next few years in becoming a perennial playoff and potentially Superbowl contender, Newton makes a lot of sense for them.  Now, they would have to believe that he has what it takes to become a  great pro quarterback, but it makes a lot of sense for them to look to address their quarterback of the future.  Matt Cassel is a very solid quarterback, but he's not going to win many, if any games in the playoffs.  If they can get a developmental quarterback that could become great now, then they should do it, right?  They do need some help in the secondary and at linebacker, but the top corners are going to be gone by the time they pick, and there will be linebackers later in the draft that they can look at.  One huge negative for the Chiefs drafting Newton is that quarterback really isn't a position of need for them, and using an early pick for a luxury may be foolish to many, if not most.

Tennessee - They also need a new quarterback now, not three years from now.  They have issues on defense, and they have to seriously weigh how many years of Chris Johnson's prime they want to waste waiting for Newton to develop.

Jacksonville - More than most teams, character seems to be a priority for the Jags, and this may be a problem for them regarding Newton. Also, they have pressing needs all over the place.  They are in prime position to draft a developmental quarterback, but they probably need that quarterback to come in the 3rd round or later.

Minnesota - Minnesota is in a tough position.  In a lot of ways, they are so close to being contenders, but they also have many other pressing needs.  And as far as addressing quarterback goes, they need a quarterback right now.  Adrian Peterson's, Sidney Rice's, and Percy Harvin's good years are limited, so waiting a couple years for Newton to be ready to lead the team may be futile. That, and the fact that their offensive line is getting old fast, the Vikings will likely be in even worse position across the board in three years than they are now.  Drafting Newton might set him up for failure.

Washington - The McNabb-Shanahan marriage doesn't appear that it's going to last beyond this season, and now they'll need someone to step in right away.  The Redskins have incredible needs all over the place that they need to address.  From what I've read and heard, Shanahan wants a mobile quarterback for his offense, and either Newton or Locker seem like good fits.  They still have serious issues on the O-line, D-line, and at wide receiver.

Seattle - Seattle needs to address quarterback soon.  Even so, they have needs all over the place.  They had a tremendous draft last year, Pete Carroll direly needs another one.  I'm not sure Matt Hasselbeck will even be in the NFL in two years, let alone be a viable starting candidate.  Trading for a Jimmy Clausen or another more pro-ready quarterback as a serviceable player while they fill in the talent holes may be more important than drafting a quarterback early.

Denver - The Broncos are quite the conundrum with a new coaching staff taking over.  If the new staff doesn't feel that Tebow is the answer, then Newton makes a lot of sense.  They may feel that investing more time and money on a project that may never turn out is not worth wasting a first or second round pick on.

So what destination(s) make(s) the most sense for Newton?

For his sake, I think Kansas City and Oakland gives him the best opportunities to be a successful, franchise quarterback.

They both have young talent at the skill positions, and are a lot closer to becoming playoff contenders before he starts and can take them to the next level.

With no 1st round pick, Oakland will have to hope he falls to them in the 2nd, and Kansas City has to be sure that a) he is a potential star quarterback that will be able to play in a pro-offense effectively, and b) that he is worth addressing their future needs over more immediate ones.

Especially for Kansas City to take him early, the Wonderlic Test will be an extremely important evaluation tool.

If he does poorly, I doubt a team like the Chiefs would risk a high pick on him.

How high will he go?  Is he a definite 1st rounder like Todd McShay and Mel Kiper suggest?

I am a little more skeptical than the "experts" here.

I think Tim Tebow actually hurt Newton's chances, because that was likely one of the reasons the former coaching staff was let go, and it demonstrated how much management has a "what can you do for me right now" mentality.

I also think the character concerns are going to keep teams from reaching too much to grab him, unlike Tebow. 

I think the Chiefs, the Redskins, or the Jags have a good chance to take him in the 1st, or the Bills or Raiders in the 2nd.

Where and how high Newton goes is going to be very interesting.

More than most prospects, he has incredible boom or bust potential.

In the right system, he could thrive, in the wrong situation, he'll be a bust.


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