Speculation surrounding the potential landing spots for the much heralded Cam Newton is bound to reach dizzying heights over the coming weeks with recent reports surfacing that the Heisman Trophy winner is forgoing his senior season at Auburn University.
A tremendous athletic talent, Newton compiled one of the greatest statistical seasons in NCAA history, passing for 2,854 yards with 30 passing touchdowns and rushing for an additional 1,473 yards and 20 scores on the ground, proving to be the driving force behind the Auburn Tigers BCS National Championship run.
However the question remains, can spread or spread option quarterbacks succeed in the NFL?
Over the past five years there have been three highly touted quarterbacks selected in the first round that have taken a majority of their collegiate snaps for programs which catered primarily to a spread offensive philosophy.
Two of those quarterbacks, Vince Young and Jamarcus Russell, have proved largely ineffective at the professional level; and a third, Tim Tebow, has been labeled a project by John Elway, the Denver Broncos’ former Hall of Fame quarterback who was recently appointed as the team’s Executive Vice President for Football Operations.
Earlier in the week, Elway stated that he didn't think Tebow was a "good NFL quarterback" at this point in time and those same sentiments were echoed by John Fox following his interview for the head coaching vacancy in Denver in which he indicated that Tebow was in a "developmental stage". Commentary which can hardly be mistaken as ringing endorsements for the former first round selection.
If recent history is an indication of things to come, then the odds appear to be stacked against Cam Newton as he attempts to take his superior collegiate skill set and transfer those talents to the professional level.
In most cases, the ramifications for making an incorrect selection at the front end of the draft are catastrophic, both for the financial health of the organization and the competitive product that organization is able to field on Sundays.
With the fifth pick in 2011 NFL Draft, are the Arizona Cardinals willing to take that gamble?