NFL Draft 2011: Cam Newton All Hype or the Real Deal

Del KerbyContributor IFebruary 11, 2011

Cam Newton's media day workout
Cam Newton's media day workoutKent Horner/Getty Images

Many scouts will say, that when it comes to the NFL number one draft pick, it's pretty much a crap-shoot. This is especially true in this year's draft. 

NFL general managers always say they are looking for the best player available on the board. Today however, teams are taking the approach of what their needs are versus who the best athlete is based on the hype being printed.

None of the top five players in the draft are quarterbacks. Blaine Gabbert, quarterback from Mizzou rated at number six, is probably a stretch. But now we start hearing the hype for Cam Newton to be considered the best quarterback in the draft and possible number 1 overall pick..

His media day workout on February 10th, "wowed the sports media" in the words of ESPN's Tim Graham and Trent Dilfer could not get out of his own way in praising Newton.

But scouts and coaches will tell you that how a player performs in a workout versus real-game situations are two very different things.

We've seen how this plays out year after year, when teams choose poorly. The Oakland Raiders are a classic example of this. They drafted Jamarcus Russell and Darius Heywood-Bey, when it was obvious that offensive line play was the area needing to be addressed.

Last year, former Head Coach Tom Cable gets his way and the Raiders draft offensive lineman and Rolando McClain at middle linebacker and they are suddenly competitive in the AFC West.

Personally, I believe that Cam Newton is the best overall athlete in the draft.

But he's not the best QB in the draft. 

He has poor anticipation on where to throw the ball and his accuracy in 11-on-11 competition is not one of his strengths.

No one doubts his arm strength and his ability to make all the throws necessary for the NFL, but the same was said for Vince Young when he came out of Texas.

But like Young, he worked in a college-schemed shotgun offense and not an offense that prepares one to transition to the professional level.

The Auburn offense was schemed to take advantage of Newton's athleticism—the same as Florida did with Tim Tebow. This was true for Young at Texas as well.

We've seen the intermittent success that has been experienced by Young with the Titans. Tebow's fortunes are yet to be determined as he starts his sophomore year in the NFL.

Now Cam Newton is being hyped by ESPN and other national sports news outlets, because he dazzled them on media day workout. 

I have to say if Newton goes to Buffalo or Carolina, he's going to be a bust.  Not because he's not athletic, but because he'll get beaten up by the defenses in those divisions. 

Cam Newton will be running for his proverbial life if he ends up with either of these franchises. Carolina and Buffalo are both in need of lineman on both sides of the ball and should be looking there first.

Newton needs to go to a team that has an established quarterback. Someone who can mentor him and provide him the time to learn and develop into a quality NFL quarterback.

Many good college quarterbacks have experienced this scenario. Take a look at the 2005 draft class with Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers

Smith is drafted Number 1 and goes to a team with no continuity in the offense, an aging offensive line and an average receiving and running back corps. Smith is the opening day starter in 2005 and runs for his life in most every game.

Rodgers is drafted 24th and sits behind Brett Favre for three years learning to play the position from one of the best in the game. There's continuity in the offense and the front office keeps making the necessary moves to create a winner. 

Five years later, Smith is being called a bust and Rodgers is the Super Bowl MVP.  If the scenario would have been reversed, no doubt, Rodgers would now be called a bust and Smith might be the MVP.

So where does Cam Newton fit in this debate? Is he the best quarterback in the draft, or is it all hype by his sports marketing team?

Only time will be able to answer that question.

Will he be able to make the transition to the next level and be a great player in the NFL or will he be just another bust in a long line of over-hyped quarterbacks?  

Cam Newton's future is yet to be written. 

How bright or dismal that future is depends on what team he ends up playing for. 

My hope for him is that he goes the way of Aaron Rodgers and falls to a team that wants to mentor him and eventually make Newton their franchise quarterback.

Maybe, with any luck, Newton will fall to 22nd in the draft and the Colts will take him.  Imagine a young quarterback learning the position from the likes of Payton Manning. 

If this happens, Cam Newton's future will only be limited by Cam Newton. 


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