From: Tordon Blog <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, Mar 15, 2011 at 1:54 AM
Subject: Panthers among teams expected at Cam Newton's pro day
Will Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton be the No. 1 overall pick of the 2011 draft? He could help secure the selection with a glowing performance Tuesday at Auburn's pro day.
The Carolina Panthers own that top pick, and their new coach, Ron Rivera, is expected to be on hand to watch Newton's workout.
Carolina's battered offense was awful last year, and QBs Matt Moore and rookie Jimmy Clausen gave little indication they were long-term answers under center. The Panthers also have a little extra riding on their first-round pick this year because they dealt their second-rounder to the Patriots at last year's draft (to move up forArmanti Edwards).
Despite the team's numerous needs, Rivera admitted at the scouting combine that quarterback was definitely under consideration at the top spot.
"We do believe we have to have a franchise quarterback to lead your team for the next six, seven, eight years. We certainly believe that," he said. "Do you have to take that guy or is he on our roster right now? That's all part of our evaluation process."
The coach also praised Newton, comparing him to some well-established names.
"The young man has a tremendous talent," said Rivera. "He has natural size and can run and has a tremendous arm. He's got a good pocket presence already. I think he's well on his way.
"Look at Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco -- Cam has got those types of physical attributes. He's a tall, powerful young man. He's got great athletic ability. He might be the best athlete of all of them. Again, the one thing he does have is a great arm and he's a winner. Go back to junior college and his college days and you can't pass that up, either. Again, we've got to explore."
However the Panthers also have to explore how NFL-ready Newton is while assessing others, such as Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert. Newton struggled -- albeit while throwing to unfamiliar receivers -- at the combine, completing 11-of-21 passes and was particularly ineffective on out patterns. He's not accustomed to taking direct snaps from center, nor does he have refined footwork required for the subsequent dropback.
Still, Newton possesses a huge frame (6-5, 248), outstanding arm and legs (30 TD passes, 20 TD runs in 2010) and obvious charisma. He led his junior college team to a championship one season before replicating the feat at Auburn.