Carolina Panthers News: 1st Pick Cam Newton Scheduled to Start Season Opener

Joseph Goode@!/JoeGoodeFitnessCorrespondent IIISeptember 2, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 13:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers watches on during their preseason game against the New York Giants at Bank of America Stadium on August 13, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

After the final preseason game, Carolina Panther's coach Ron Rivera named Cam Newton as the starter for the first game of the season. Like most rookies, Newton has had his share of ups and downs and now he will be thrown in with the big boys this up coming season.  

In his only drive against the Steelers Thursday night, Newton led a nine play drive with a few solid throws and runs.  Quarterbacks Jimmy Clausen and Derek Anderson have not stood out this preseason, so by default Newton was awarded the starting position.

Incumbent Jimmy Clausen has played his way out of the second spot on the QB depth chart and it looks like Derek Anderson will be the backup quarterback. Clausen has been so awful this preseason that the Panthers are probably wondering what they should do with him.

Clausen really doesn't have any trade value and the best option would be to keep him as the No. 3 quarterback for one more season. If Clausen continues to take steps back, they will probably have to cut ties with him.

Derek Anderson was brought in as a veteran presence and mentor, but Anderson has had too many problems of his own and I believe Newton should stay as far away from him as he can. 

Cam Newton is nowhere near as ready as previous top picks Sam Bradford and Matt Ryan were, but he is in a great situation with solid veterans around him. Newton will have to rely heavily on veterans DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart as well as Steve Smith and Jeremy Shockey. Newton's running ability will also have to come into play. The pieces on offense are very capable and can definitely win a few games this season.

Some previous No. 1 picks—David Carr and Alex Smith—have had horrible offensive lines, an unstable coaching staff and were shaken after the first big hit. Newton is bigger, more mobile and has already overcome pressures at the highest college level. He is a proven winner and able to adapt. He will use his legs just as Vince Young did when he was a rookie for the Titans, but unlike Young, Newton will be mentally prepared for the bright lights of the NFL. The Panthers will embrace Newton because of his charisma, and he will become the leader of this team by the end of the season.  

If I was to compare Newton to any other NFL player, it would have to be the Steeler's Ben Roethlisberger. He is able to shake off defenders with his size and create plays when the offense breaks down. Cam is a proven winner and that will translate at the NFL level. We will see if Cam's ability will allow him to become elite and worthy of the No. 1 pick or just a mediocre quarterback.

The Panthers probably wont win too many games this season as Newton develops, but coach Ron Rivera did the right thing in choosing to start Newton. Cam Newton's first game as an NFL Pro will show off all his abilities and determine if he is the next Big Ben or an Alex Smith flop.