This is not the prevailing thought, but I believe the Carolina Panthers should draft Cam Newton in the 2011 NFL Draft. All signs point to there being a rookie pay scale for this year's rookies, so the Panthers could take him #1 overall and not owe him $50 million. If not, trading back and taking him would actually be ideal because the Panthers need to improve at a few key positions.
First, let’s deal with the football side of the equation. Normally a Heisman Trophy, National Championship winning QB would be a lock for the number 1 spot, however Cam Newton did not play in a traditional pro-style offense so there are doubts about his ability to acclimate to the NFL. I believe Cam Newton is like Vince Young 2.0 right now and depending upon how he adapts to taking snaps under center, could develop into a more mobile version of Ben Roethlisberger. Vince Young ran a spread offense and came into the NFL and was the offensive rookie of the year. Tim Tebow also showed he was able to make plays with his arm and his feet when he was given a chance to start for the Broncos.
Cam Newton should be able to make a similar adjustment, as he is further along as a passer than Young or Tebow as evidenced by his passer efficiency rating being second in the nation to Kellen Moore by 0.6 of a point. Yes, even higher than can’t miss golden boy Andrew Luck who is a full 12 points lower. He also threw only 4 fewer touchdowns than Andrew Luck and had a higher YPA, while adding 20 touchdowns on the ground. He is also faster, bigger and stronger than Young or Tebow.
Who should the Panthers take #1 overall?
Yes the Panthers drafted a QB in the second round last year, but Jimmy Clausen is probably not the quarterback to lead the Panthers into the future and is definitely not the guy for the 2011 season. He came in last year playing essentially the same offense he played in at Notre Dame and stunk the stadium up. He never got on the same page with Steve Smith, which is amazing since Smith proved with Jake Delhomme that you just have to throw the ball in his general direction and he’ll make a play on it. Jimmy Clausen should be out of the equation no matter what the Panthers do at quarterback in 2011. Ideally they would bring in a veteran and let Cam Newton sit behind him, but I imagine if forced to play he would perform far better than Clausen in 2010.
I know there are also people out there who wonder about his character issues. First, I am not sure why everyone is so sure he knew his father solicited money for him to transfer. Children often know nothing of their parents' business, never mind text messages sent from their personal phones.
When I was in 12th grade, my best friend and I were going to attend the same college. We had planned this for years and had even been accepted to the same university and sent in our rooming forms to live together. About eight months before we were supposed to go his mother said she had arranged an academic scholarship to another university and that he had to go there. We were both shocked and devastated. He had no knowledge of any of this and had not even applied to that school at that time. True story.
This is why I completely understand how his dad could have been going behind his back soliciting money from universities. Especially if he was asking his dad for advice on where to transfer. His dad could have been “doing research” and then said well I think you should go here. Ultimately, I admit I do not know just as no one else really does. I am just making the point that people who do not have all the facts should not prejudge Cameron Newton’s character and write him off as a person of "questionable character."
Lastly, the Panthers should draft Cam Newton to re-energize the fan base. After last year’s debacle, which followed Jake Delhomme’s 8 touchdown, 18 interception season, the Panthers need to do something to get fans back in the stands.
Nick Fairley may or may not turn out to be a great defensive tackle but he definitely will not get people to the stadium to see him play. Same goes for defensive end Daquan Bowers, on top of which, quarterback is a much more pressing need than defensive end.
Cam Newton will invoke people’s curiosity as a Heisman Trophy winner and National Champion, not to mention his exciting style of play. People can moan and groan all they want about how he won’t be able to run like he does in college in the NFL and they are probably right, but he will be able to run as well as the other mobile quarterbacks in the NFL. We have all seen from the play of Aaron Rodgers, Josh Freeman, and Michael Vick, the ability to escape the pocket and still make a play excites fans and ultimately results in wins.