Just over a week ago the Carolina Panthers were said to be down to two players for the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. At that point, the Panthers were supposedly deciding between Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus and Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert. Apparently, things have changed.
Now the buzz is growing louder and louder that the Panthers will instead take Auburn quarterback Cam Newton with the first pick. Apparently the Panthers now favor Newton over Gabbert, and while Dareus fills a position of need, Carolina wants to make a splash with their pick.
The Panthers like Newton’s incredible physical tools and feel his upside is immense. Everyone knows taking Newton would be a big risk, in fact he might be the ultimate high-risk/high-reward guy. Seriously, he could end up being anything from JaMarcus Russell or Ben Roethlisberger. It’s that big of a gap and people either love what he brings, or think he’ll be a sure bust.
Newton has a big arm and can run, but he also ran a one-read offense at Auburn, displayed questionable decision-making at times and hasn’t proven to be as accurate as someone with his talent level should be. Obviously you’d expect him to improve with coaching, but his personality and attitude have also been questioned by some and there’s also going to be some drama following him wherever he goes.
As of now, it looks like the Panthers are willing to take that risk and make Newton the No. 1 pick.