Tomorrow evening, the Carolina Panthers will select Cam Newton with the #1 overall pick in the NFL draft. The moment this happens, the Panthers front office will have immediately set their franchise back five years.
Cam Newton comes with more red flags than a game of Minesweeper (and is far less entertaining). Aside from the fact that the Panthers are basically admitting that they fucked up in spending a second round pick laster year on Jimmy Clausen, they are placing the keys to the franchise in the hands of a man that threw under 300 passes in his college career. As a point of reference, last year's #1 overall pick Sam Bradford threw over 900 passes in his college career. I feel like I am not making too much of a bold claim when I say that Cam was known much more for his legs than his arm in college. His size and speed made him a pretty good duel threat in college, able to cut up defenses with his running ability. But that was college. In the NFL, Cam will face defenses vastly superior to any he faced in college and his ability as a runner will likely be diminished if not completely neutralized. This is not to say that I don't think he could have a good game or two on the ground, but the NFL is a pass first league and Cam Newton is not a pass first quarterback.
What makes the pick even more egregious is the talent Carolina is passing on in taking Cam Newton #1 overall. One of Carolina's biggest needs on defense is at the defensive tackle position, and a Ndamukong Suh-esque talent is present in this draft in the form of Marcell Dareus out of the University of Alabama. Here are a few of Dareus' highlights, including him chasing down Mr. Newton:
CB Patrick Peterson (LSU) and WR A.J. Green (Georgia) are also exceptional talents that I'd rate much, much higher than Cam Newton, although the Panthers aren't as thin at their positions. By all accounts, there are no other teams in the league that have Cam Newton rated as their #1 overall player, with many teams having Cam not even ranked as their #1 overall QB (For the record, mark my words, three years from now Christian Ponder will have emerged as the best QB out of this draft class). If nothing else, the Panthers are doing themselves a disservice by not trying to trade down and grab Cam later in the draft while picking up other assets. All this pick does is buy the Panthers front office some time so that they can keep throwing out words about Cam like "He is developing nicely, he's just ready to turn a corner". They'll say that during his rookie year which will bleed nicely into his sophomore slump and into him being removed as the starter mid-game some time in year three. The only corner Cam will be turning in the next five years is the one to the unemployment office once the Panthers cut him.