While it hasn't been officially announced yet, all appearances are that the Carolina Panthers are going to pick former Auburn standout Cam Newton with the number 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft tonight. Newton, who is already being compared to the Steelers Ben Roethlisberger and the Buccaneers Josh Freeman, is a very gifted athlete and has all the tools to be a successful NFL quarterback.
Newtons greatest asset is his athleticism. While there is still a place among the quarterback ranks for the non-mobile Manning's and Brady's, the position is fast evolving into one where you need some legs to get out of trouble. Defensive backs are getting faster and stronger while defensive schemes are getting better and better so the ability to make athletic plays in the backfield, ala Michael Vick and Roethlisberger, is becoming more and more of a necessity.
On top of his athleticism, Newton also has shown a high level ability not to get rattled. Unlike Vince Young, who has a similar skill set but emotionally folds at the first sign of criticism, Newton has been through the media fire that controversy brings and has actually came out of it ahead. He has a slick charisma that endears him to teammates and allows him to breeze around the media. Newton loves the spotlight and the value of that at the next level can't be measured.
Despite his positives, however, there are those that doubt him, comparing him to the likes of JaMarcus Russel and Akili Smith. They feel that like those two, Newton is a standout college player who won't transition well in the NFL. The nay-sayers cite past character issues as well as the style of offense played by Auburn, which isn't at NFL level of sophistication.
Basically then, when you take the arguments from both sides, you have a player who has a huge upside that could bomb at the next level.
"If he's successful, people are going to love him and the coach and general manager that take him are going to look like very smart guys," a former NFL talent evaluator said. "If he's not successful, it's probably going to cost that coach and general manager their jobs."
Nobody can accurately predict how a player will be once he gets to the NFL but one thing is for certain, you need a franchise quarterback if you're going to be a powerhouse in the NFL and Newton has that potential.
So boom or bust, Carolina is making the right choice when they call Newtons number in tonight's draft.
Photo credit – AP