NFL Draft 2011: 5 Reasons Cam Newton Won't Be the First Overall Pick

James Adkins@KCChiefsBlitzCorrespondent IIApril 8, 2011

NFL Draft 2011: 5 Reasons Cam Newton Won't Be the First Overall Pick

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    ESPN draft experts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper make a living off of not agreeing with one another about where America’s top college football players will make their professional livings.

    Each one debates the other on reasons why a player will or will not end up with an NFL team, and each one is right as often as they’re wrong.

    These guys make for great television. It’s why they’re paid the big bucks.

    So when both McShay and Kiper agree that the Carolina Panthers will make Auburn quarterback Cam Newton the first overall selection in the 2011 NFL draft, they must be right…or are they?

    In this case, McShay and Kiper are wrong. The fact that they both agreed with one another should have been your first clue that it will never happen, and here are five reasons why.

1. Cam Newton Isn’t Even the Best Quarterback Available in This Year’s Draft

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    The general consensus among most draft experts is that Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert is the most complete quarterback in this year’s draft.

    It also cannot be ignored that Newton rarely had to make more than one
    or two reads of the defense in his lone season at Auburn before he was allowed to take off and run.

    And while it’s possible he could become the next Michael Vick, head coach Ron Rivera’s offense has a better chance of turning him into the next Akili Smith.

2. It’s Too Soon to Give Up on Jimmy Clausen

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    After receiver Steve Smith, who hasn’t played a full season or been better than an average pass-catcher since 2005, the Panthers had no one for Clausen to throw to last season.

    With the team bringing in veteran tight end Jeremy Shockey, they're providing the perfect security blanket for Clausen—a reliable target in the short passing game—something he didn’t have last
    year when he was constantly under pressure and running for his life.

3. The Panthers Have Bigger Needs Than Quarterback

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    Newton is anything but a sure thing as an NFL quarterback prospect. With an offensive line that gave up more sacks (50) than any other team in 2010 not named the Chicago Bears.

    The Panthers need to address both right tackle and the guard position.

    Throw in the fact that the interior defensive line and the Panthers' 23rd-ranked rush defense would be greatly improved by one of the standout defensive tackles in this year’s draft, and rather than invest another early-round pick in the quarterback position, it appears the Panthers would be best served going in a different direction.

4. Carolina Needs Everyone to Think They’re Taking Newton so They Can Trade Down

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    It could be argued that teams like Buffalo and Arizona need one of the top two quarterbacks more than Carolina does.

    That said, the Panthers want a team like the Cardinals (who pick fifth, after the Bills, who pick third) to think that they need to trade up if they want to get one of the top two quarterbacks.

    And while it has become extremely rare for teams to trade out of the top overall pick, if everyone believes that the Panthers are serious about taking Newton, it could very well entice Arizona to trade up, swapping first-rounders with Carolina and sending probably at least two more much-needed picks in this year’s draft to the Panthers as well.

5. Ron Rivera Is a Defensive-Minded Coach That Knows What Wins Championships

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    As a middle linebacker on the best defensive unit the NFL has ever seen, the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Chicago Bears, coach Ron Rivera knows he needs an elite defense to turn the Panthers into champions.

    While he may publicly say all the right things leading people to believe that his team will be selecting Newton, I’m not buying it.

    You have to believe that Rivera’s imagination is running wild with ideas of what his defense could do with a defensive playmaker like cornerback Patrick Peterson, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus or pass-rushing linebacker Von Miller.

    Rivera wants to put his stamp on this defense, and getting one of the elite defensive players in the first round would be the ideal way to do that.