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Monday, February 28, 2011
Panthers can't afford to take Cam Newton

By Pat Yasinskas

Cam Newton had his combine workout Sunday and, more than ever, I’m convinced the Auburn quarterback will not be the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft by the Carolina Panthers.

There already were some questions about Newton’s background and personality, and that’s why I’ve been saying all along the Panthers will probably go with one of the top-rated defensive linemen, Auburn’s Nick Fairley or Clemson’s Da'Quan Bowers.

Even if the Panthers had given Newton the thumbs up on personality and background (which I have no reason to believe that is or is not the case), I think his stock fell a bit with his workout. Sure, Newton did every test at the combine, and some of the results were staggering. He was fast, and his vertical and broad jumps were fantastic.

But, at least in my eyes, judging a quarterback purely by speed and/or jumping ability is a lot like saying Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber belongs in the Hall of Fame because he has so many career sacks, or saying a first baseman has the best throwing arm of any first baseman in history.

Cornerbacks don’t get paid to make sacks, and it doesn’t really matter if a first baseman can throw or not.

When it comes to quarterbacks, it’s all about if they can throw the football, and Newton’s passing portion of the workout wasn’t very accurate. Newton completed 11 of 21 of his attempts, and that was without defenders. ESPN’s Todd McShay and Tim Graham report Newton’s passes sailed on some pretty basic throws.

Yeah, Newton’s got great upside and he might end up being a great quarterback. But I’ll just keep saying what I’ve said all along, and I’ll say it with even more conviction now that Newton has thrown the ball at the combine.

I don’t see the Panthers taking Newton with the first pick. They need to solidify their quarterback position immediately. Newton’s not going to be an instant 70-percent passer. They’ll get their quarterback through free agency or a trade, and that makes sense, because a veteran guy could make the Panthers respectable at quarterback right away. The rest of Carolina’s roster isn’t that bad. Give the Panthers a quarterback who can complete 60-percent of his passes and give them some semblance of a passing game and they’ll be competitive.

Newton’s not going to do that right away, and maybe he never does. The Panthers need to get a quarterback who can throw the ball right now, and I don’t think that quarterback is in this draft.