Cam Newton: Why The Carolina Panthers Should Not Draft Him With The Top Pick

Cam Newton held a media-only work out in San Diego Thursday to show off his new NFL-friendly footwork and drop back ability.  Reports are that he looked great. 

Now, it should be noted, that these reports are coming from the media as no NFL scouts or general managers were allowed at the work out.  His reports may change once NFL people get to poke and prod him. 

With the Carolina Panthers holding the number one pick in the upcoming draft, there has been a sentiment growing saying that they should consider drafting Newton number one overall.  On the surface, it would seem that a team coming off a 2-14 season would be dying to draft someone like Newton. 

After all, he’s big, has a strong arm and can run.  People are already comparing him to either Josh Freeman or Ben Roethlisberger.  Can’t miss right? 

Hopefully the Panther’s front office isn’t paying attention to these reports as they should not consider drafting Cam Newton with the first overall pick this season. 

First off, Cam Newton is not a sure thing.  He was great at Auburn, but played in a shotgun spread offence with a limited number of reads and hasn’t faced the confusing NFL blitzes and coverage schemes. 

Some scouts worry about his fundamentals and touch on shorter range throws.  He has a big arm but is he able to tone it down when needed? 

Not to mention he really only started for one year at Auburn and there is no guarantee that he is nothing other than a one year wonder who, by the way, has some off-field issues that may be red flags to further trouble down the road. 

Before Stanford’s Andrew Luck announced he was returning to college for his senior season it was reported some Panther team officials had indicated they were going to draft Luck.  Andrew Luck appears to be as about a sure thing as there ever has been in the draft and no team would pass up the chance to nab him. 

Newton is not that type of player.  Newton is a project. 

There are compelling reasons not to draft Newton. 

Last year they used their second round pick (48th overall) on Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen and signed him to a four year, 6$ million deal.  Drafting Newton would signal that the club has given up on Clausen already. 

To say Clausen struggled last year would be an understatement.  Perhaps he was thrown to the wolves too soon, but he finished the season with an anemic QB rating of 58.4 and only threw 3 touchdown passes. 

But it was his rookie year.  Very few quarterbacks come out of the gates looking like Aaron Rogers and the Panthers need to show some patience here.  They had to feel strongly about Clausen to use a decent draft pick on him. 

Right now Clausen and Tony Pike are the only Panther quarterbacks on the roster as Matt Moore is a free agent.  What Clausen needs is a veteran quarterback to help mentor him.  He didn’t have that last year and it contributed to his stunted learning curve. 

The Panthers need to bring in that veteran QB to help Clausen develop.  

If they truly feel that they missed on Clausen and want to move in another direction there are better options then reaching for Newton with the top pick.  There are other quarterbacks that could be drafted in later rounds who are rated just as highly as Newton. 

These players are also projects, but won’t further hamstring the Panthers by wasting a high pick if they don’t pan out. 

After taking Clausen last year they would have to hit on Newton or face the franchise killing prospects of wasting two high picks on guys who didn’t work out. 

The second reason for not drafting Newton is that the Panthers are not devoid of talent.  That statement might seem strange considering they only won two games but new head coach Ron Rivera is not inheriting a team with a bare cupboard. 

Last year was a rebuilding year as they chose to go with talented, but inexperienced players.  They paid for that strategy in the loss column but are set up to have a talented team in the next couple of years. 

The Panthers should learn from this year’s Super Bowl.  Both Green Bay and Pittsburgh have great defenses.  Yes, they had good quarterbacks but it was the defense that carried those teams to the game’s biggest stage.  

The Panthers have a chance this year to further build a dominant defense.  They have a young but promising looking secondary that could use help with a pass rush.  Last year the Panthers only had 31 sacks, a number only better than two other NFC teams. 

Sitting at the top of most draft boards are Auburn’s Nick Fairley and Clemson’s Da’Quan Bowers.  Either of these guys would be much better picks than Newton.  They would help the Panthers build an elite defense.  

It could be a defense that could carry a team while it works to find a quarterback and offense.  Drafting a work-in-progress quarterback might leave the Panthers starting all over again in three years.  They need to do the right thing and say no to Cam.


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