NFL Draft 2011 Carolina Panthers: Cameron Newton vs. Blaine Gabbert

George AndersonAnalyst IIApril 1, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Quarterback Cameron Newton #2 of the Auburn Tigers runs the ball in the third quarter against the Oregon Ducks during the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The one glaring hole in the Carolina Panthers is the quarterback. This is obvious to anyone who has watched the game. Now, this is not a bash-on-Jimmy Clausen session. This is just an observation: Clausen sucked, big time.

Clausen was also helped in his pitiful play by the pitiful performance of his team. His running game didn’t get going until Goodson came into the picture. The offensive line was plagued with injuries and inadequate depth. The tight ends were hardly used as receivers.

Most importantly, he had no one to mentor him. In fact, he wasn’t even supposed to play. Matt Moore was supposed to be the starter, based on his performance the last four or five games, but he showed he learned too much from Jake Delhomme. There was no veteran to show him the ropes or to teach him the game.

Clausen was thrown to the wolves because Moore couldn’t hack it. Clausen also had Jeff Davidson calling plays for him. This is like asking me, you or the water boy to call plays. Lastly, Clausen did not help himself. He would have good games, like the first Saints game, and he would have bad games, like most of his season.

Poor performance aside, I do not believe Clausen should be treated like a “one-and-done” player. He will be in a new system, with new coaches, more experienced receivers, and a healthy offensive line. This, plus the fact next year’s draft class has a nice group of quarterbacks, is why the Panthers should look elsewhere in the April’s Draft.

The first option is to trade, but if that’s not a possibility then A.J. Green or Marcel Dareus are the best choices. Green is a future Steve Smith and Dareus is a crimson monster that will help with the defensive line.

Of course, I’m just a fan. The reality is looking like Rivera will bring in his quarterback and start a new era in Carolina. The two choices, despite reports of entertaining Ryan Mallet, are Cameron Newton and Blaine Gabbert. When compared, though, I am 100 percent behind Cam Newton, and here’s why:


Cameron Newton had superior stats to Blaine Gabbert. Newton threw for 2,854 yards with 30 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He also had a 66.1 completion percentage. If that wasn’t enough, he also rushed for 1,473 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Gabbert threw for more yards, as he had 3,186 on the year, but he only threw 16 touchdowns with nine interceptions and had a slightly lower completion percentage at 63.4.


Newton played and succeeded in the hardest conference in college football—the SEC. Newton beat Alabama, Mississippi State, LSU, Georgia and South Carolina twice. Gabbert beat Oklahoma and lost to Nebraska. Newton would be better suited in a highly competitive division like the NFC South.


Newton showed leadership skills. He proved he can take the game into his hands and dominate. He came back and kept firing in the win against Georgia. Newton’s greatest feat was when Auburn was down 24-7 at the half to Alabama. Newton, who scored four touchdowns with no interceptions, led the Tigers back to a 28-27 victory. When has Gabbert done that?

Of course, he also led his team to a National Championship and received the Heisman, but that’s just the cherry on top.

Physical Attributes

Both athletes are big, with strong arms and are mobile (though Newton has proven his to be superior).


There are a few other notes on the players. Both come from spread offenses which make analysts skeptical, but there are two things that, for some reason, everyone thinks Newton lacks, so he is second to Gabbert.

First, he lacks accuracy. This statement is debatable as he did well at his Pro Day and Carolina has tall receivers, so a few more of his passes would be better placed. I do remember he missed a couple short and easy passes in the championship, but overall that can be tweaked.

The second fault is his character, as many are aware. His interviews were not great at the combine, and he has had some questions about his academics. The one issue that does not matter is when his FATHER asked for money from prospective colleges, not Newton.   

Finally, I can only think of the guy I would want the Panthers to pick, but it is up to Rivera, and if his choice is Newton then I think I can get used to seeing him in black and blue.