Cam Newton's NFL Future : Pros Outweigh Cons
College football fans will no longer have to pretend that it's feasible Auburn didn’t pay for his services nor will they have to pretend the statements coming from the NCAA actually make sense. (The best statement came from associate director for public and media relations Stacey Osburn: “The decision to rule a student-athlete ineligible is made by the university, not the NCAA. We do not suspend student-athletes.” Classic. For a good time, Google Stacey Osburn.)
Newton, wisely, is taking his talents to the NFL before the entire pay-for-play house of cards comes crashing down.
NCAA disgraces aside, many people are wondering what kind of pro Cam Newton will be.
If history is any indicator, Newton’s career could be short lived. The two previous Auburn Tigers to win the Heisman trophy -- quarterback Pat Sullivan and running back Bo Jackson -- both had short careers. Jackson’s electric NFL career was cut short due to injury after four seasons and Sullivan left after six years to become a Birmingham businessman, his body and health intact.
Auburn and Heisman jinxes not withstanding, Newton has many positives going for him and a few negatives working against him.
First, the negative.
Bottom line, Newton has shown a penchant for taking shortcuts. Most college football fans believe that Newton left Florida because he stole a laptop from a fellow classmate, which he, in fact, is guilty of doing. Few people, however, know that an offense such as stealing a laptop at a school like Florida can easily be made to disappear from a young man’s record. Newton completed a court-approved pretrial diversion program -- an offer that is routinely given by institution-friendly judges to young men who show exemplary talent both on and on the football field.
No, the real reason Newton left Florida, confirmed in 2010 by Foxsports.com, was that he was facing suspension for not one, not two, but three instances of academic cheating. This does not seem like the kind of guy who will stay awake scribbling furiously in his notebook (a la Peyton Manning) during NFL-length video room sessions.
However, the positives that Newton has going for him far outweigh the negatives -- at least on paper.
First off, he has the talent and ambition to make it at the next level. His performances in 2010 were simply amazing and his resiliency was second to none. He seemed to literally will his team to win, especially in the national championship game against Oregon.
Newton also has the pedigree to be successful. His dad, Cecil Sr., was a strong safety for the Dallas Cowboys before becoming his son's "pimp" and his brother, Cecil Jr., is a center for the Jacksonville Jaguars who worked his way onto the team after going undrafted in 2009.
Lastly, and most importantly for Newton, his timing is perfect.
There are very few viable quarterback prospects in the 2011 NFL draft.
Stanford QB Andrew Luck has taken his name out of the mix and will return to Stanford for his junior season. This leaves only Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert ahead of Cam Newton when it comes to the top quarterback prospects in the draft, according to draft “gurus” like Mel Kiper Jr.
Newton would’ve been lucky to go in the second round of the 2010 draft, but this year, considering the lack of depth in this draft, he looks like a legitimate first round pick.
Unless the Carolina Panthers make an even bigger mistake than drafting Jimmy Clausen and take Newton with the No. 1 pick in the draft, he should realistically go somewhere between pick Nos. 12 and 32.
The highest Newton should go, assuming NFL teams haven’t fired all their scouts in preparation for the lockout, is No. 12 to Minnesota. If there is a season, the Vikings are set to enter 2011 with Tarvaris Jackson and Joe Webb as their quarterbacks. Newton is better than those two guys right now.
The next logical place for him to land is at No. 15 to the Miami Dolphins. Judging from his pathetic up and down performances, it seems Chad Henne likes the Miami nightlife more than his job. The Dolphins already swung and missed with QB Pat White, so why not take a flyer on Newton? A Southern guy like him would, at the very least, sell tickets down in Miami and add some punch to its pathetic Wildcat scheme.
The most intriguing place Newton could wind up is New England.
Before everyone scoffs and says, “Belichick would never take a chance on a guy like that,” remember that he took chances on Corey Dillon and Randy Moss with impressive results. Remember also that the Patriots’ backup quarterback is…(sorry, gotta go look it up) Brian Hoyer, formerly of Michigan State mediocrity.
New England has two first round draft choices thanks to Al Davis and the Oakland Raiders: the No. 17 pick and a pick yet to be determined (it depends on how the playoffs finish). Assuming Belichick thinks highly of Newton and assuming Newton has what it takes to make it in the NFL, the Pats could do a lot worse than keeping him away from the other teams who so desperately need a quarterback in this QB-driven league.
To reach staff reporter Ryan Nunez, click here.