2011 NFL Draft: Is Cam Newton the Next JaMarcus Russell?

Fen Yi ChenContributor IApril 15, 2011

Cam Newton led Auburn to the BCS National Championship
Cam Newton led Auburn to the BCS National ChampionshipKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Only recently has Auburn's star quarterback, Cam Newton solidified himself as a top-five pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. On some boards, Newton has been mocked at No. 1.

Mel Kiper Jr.  and Todd McShay, ESPN's NFL Draft gurus, have placed Newton on top of their mock, even when he isn't rated their best quarterback.

For years, I have adored the analytical ways of Kiper. His stern tone and likable television personality makes him one of the few informative guests on ESPN.

With his new draft board having Newton as the first player selected by the Carolina Panthers, flashbacks of a big-armed JaMarcus Russell devour my mind, drawing deep comparisons, as the two share similar builds and paralleled college success.

Though Newton weighs roughly 25-30 pounds less than the erratic and often times obese Russell, their games are similar. Long strides, powerful running and strong arms are both terrific traits for a modern-day dual quarterback, but attitude is what separates the good from the ugly.

Russell was an adolescent trapped in a grown man’s body. His self control was abandoned, unused and wasted. Offseasons were spent eating and drinking profusely, rather than preparing for the upcoming season.

Again, self control is for those who want it.

Perhaps his fate was dealt when he was selected first overall by Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders. Perhaps the weight of propelling the Black & Silver to a playoff berth during his rookie season tore him to pieces.

No one knows for sure, but for now, Russell is an unemployed, overweight has-been who’s best bet in throwing another football may be across the Atlantic.

Newton’s ear-to-ear smile has already won the hearts of Americans across the country.

Many believe the dual threat quarterback may be the next big thing in the NFL. A Vince Young with better throwing ability.

We all know what ultimately happened the Young. He fought his way out of the league.

Newton had a decent combine, but the Under Armour spokesperson seemed to have left his accuracy in Mars before the workout.

Newton is a bulky 6’6”, 250-pound quarterback and is undoubtedly one of the best players in this year’s draft, but recent top draft picks have been relatively safe.

The Houston Texans chose a consistent Mario Williams ahead of college superstar Reggie Bush in 2006, and Michigan’s Jake Long was selected ahead of Darren McFadden in 2008.

Teams tend to select players with humble personalities. Players who put their teams first instead of letting their egotistical agendas sabotage winning for personal glory.

As Newton said in the past, his personal agenda if selected in the draft would be to become a terrific player on the field as well as a superstar off it. Though those comments were rescinded hours after, those words have forever been etched in the minds of sports fans all across America.

If Newton were to falter in the league, it will be his off-field antics and not his practice habits that will be blamed. The same goes for Russell. His commitment was questioned early and the rest is history.

Newton may be headed down the same path.