Cam Newton: Does Cincinnati Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis Really Want To Draft Him?

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Cam Newton: Does Cincinnati Bengals Coach Marvin Lewis Really Want To Draft Him?
Larry French/Getty Images
January 2, 2011: Head coach Marvin Lewis watches in Baltimore. He's got his eyes on Cam Newton.

Will Marvin Lewis become the second African-American NFL head coach to draft an African-American quarterback in the first round?

Could he? Yes. Will he? Stay tuned. I’ll let you all know in about three weeks how the drama unfolded. Speaking of folding, Cincinnati’s incumbent quarterback is disgruntled with the cards he’s been dealt to deal with in Ohio.

The starter for Cincinnati last season, quarterback Carson Palmer is unhappy but unlikely to be traded, according to NFL.com Senior Columnist Vic Carucci.

According to the Bengalswebsite, head coach Marvin Lewis watched Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton’s workout in Alabama. Lewis labeled Newton as a potential franchise quarterback.

“He shoulders responsibility, and he’s done well with it,” Lewis said. He was speaking about Newton’s ability to handle adversity in diverse settings—especially the controversy at Auburn.

At the University of Florida, at Blinn Junior College and at Auburn, Newton passed the franchise quarterback test—to paraphrase Lewis. The head coach could be in the market for a new quarterback regardless of Palmer’s situation.

“We’re going to eventually complete this team with other players,” Lewis declared.  “So let’s get the greatest young prospects that are going to play for a long period of time…at a very, very high level.”  Newton fits the feature on the theatre's facade.

NFL Network reporter Jason La Canfora reported the Bengals worked Ryan Mallett out in late March.  Lewis wouldn’t comment on whether or not the Bengals will draft a quarterback.

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
February 27, 2011: Newton shows his throwing motion to NFL types in Indianapolis. He's drawn interest from at least eight pro teams.

“He’s got it. Whoever said it wishes they had it,” Lewis said. The coach was apparently referring to the harsh critique of Newton’s character by Pro Football Weekly’s Nolan Nawrocki.

Nawrocki used words such as “fake,” “not punctual,” “immature” and “not dependable.” 

A Hall of Fame quarterback, Warren Moon spoke out about it during a segment of “NFL Total Access” on the NFL Network. Moon disparaged the writer—asking how he could judge whether Cam's smile is fake or not—saying Nawrocki had never met Newton.

Nawrocki defended his sources, but he didn’t mention any names. Moon pointed out Nawrocki’s summation is “very irresponsible” reporting. Moon also said Nawrocki’s comments were “racially biased.” I agree with Warren.

Bias among NFL executives when it comes to quarterbacks has long been an issue in organized American professional football. “I thought we were all past this,”  Moon said.  “I think the way Cam is being treated shows we’re not.” Warren then went out and threw a 20-yard touchdown to...

Wait...Moon went on to say Newton was being held to different standards because he’s an African-American quarterback. Nawrocki defended his own comments, saying he’s criticized quarterbacks J.P. Losman and Jimmy Clausen of the Carolina Panthers

In a critique, he said Losman needed a haircut and Clausen chewed too much gum. I'm joking. “We’re going to call it like we see it. It’s as simple as that,”  Nawrocki actually said.

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
Dec. 3, 2011: Jimmy Clausen tries to avoid a sack in Pittsburgh. He was sacked by Nawrocki—allegedly.

National Football League bosses, meanwhile, were looking in secret to see how Newton would handle the pressure. They were busted when someone turned the lights on in the room, and they scattered like roaches.

NFL types who question the players during their Combine interviews, have been known to use tactics to draw reactions from players. See the questions about Dez Bryant’s mother by Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland.

Newton passed every test during and after leading Auburn to a few big wins in their undefeated 2010-11 season. After orchestrating a come-from-behind masterpiece against Alabama, he was spotted winning the BCS National Championship Game.

It’s really as simple as this: I wouldn’t be surprised if Nawrocki was a hack job. 

Star athletes and prospects undergo scrutiny as almost a rite of passage. Ryan Mallett has endured criticism this draft season, but nothing on the scale Newton has in the Nawrocki report. 

It doesn’t, though, seem to be hurting Cam’s draft stock. Newton was scheduled to work out for the Panthers, Bills, Bengals, Browns, Titans, Redskins, Vikings and Dolphins.  All of those teams could be in the market for a superstar quarterback.

The Panthers have the No. 1 overall draft pick. The rest of them are in the first 15 draft spots. One of them is going to take a quarterback, I believe.

Brian Masck/Getty Images
Oct. 29, 1989: Warren Moon loosens up in Houston. He was a well-oiled passing machine throughout his career.

If Lewis is the beneficiary of drafting Newton, then so be it. I respect Lewis a little more, now, since he’s gone out on the limb for the former Auburn quarterback.

Lewis can possibly relate to what Moon is saying and what Newton is experiencing in terms of scrutiny. An NFL veteran, Lewis has seen a lot and he’s a very intelligent man.

The Bengals swept their division in 2009 but last season was a different story. In my opinion, if Lewis does get Newton, then it’s be because he’s a good player and not because of his so-called “race.” Cincinnati needs and wants the best quarterback they can find.

The Bengals virtually struggled out of the tunnel at the quarterback position last year.  Expectations weren’t met by what was thought to be an explosive aerial attack.

Terrell Owens, Chad Johnson, Jermaine Gresham and Jordan Shipley form a talented receiving corps. Cedric Benson is a revitalized running back. One of the best running backs to ever hail from Texas, Benson was like a man among boys in high school.

With one of the best running quarterbacks in the game today, the Bengals—with Newton—could add punch to their lineup. Coupled with Carson’s woeful 2010-11 season, Cam could wind up in Cincinnati.

If I were Marvin Lewis, I’d do it. I believe Newton has a pure touch over the top on intermediate and semi-deep throws, and he understands the theory of release. He's also a dependable five to 10 yards per carry quarterback.  

Justin Edmonds/Getty Images
January 2, 2011: Tim Tebow loosens up in Denver. He is the object of worship in certain far corners of the football world.

He was behind Tim Tebow on the depth chart in Gainesville at the University of Florida.  Tebow’s delivery is much slower than Newton’s, though, and had to undergo a makeover in the NFL. The coach who drafted Tebow is no longer there in Denver.

Not only was the article irresponsible reporting, in some parts of the NFL people will read and believe Nawrocki. It may force fathers to have to explain to their sons the situation surrounding the unfortunate and unhappy article. 

The Bengals believe in giving players—and possibly out of bounds writers—second chances...and third and maybe fourth. 

Newton handled the situation like a mature young man should. He's a national champion, and I can't recall another national champion quarterback who has been attacked in this manner. 

Warren Moon is an unpaid adviser to Newton, according to sources, and he can't recall any, either. The article rips reality apart—considering Newton’s college exploits. 

Dennis Green and the Vikings drafted Daunte Culpepper in 1999 with the 11th overall pick. If Lewis wants to solidify the quarterback position for the next 10 years, then he'll draft Newton. The rest will be history. 

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