Monday, February 28, 2011
Seeking answers on Cam Newton
By Mike Sando
ESPN's John Clayton points to three teams -- none from the NFC West -- as prime suitors for Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.
The team that drafts Newton becomes only part of the story.
Teams passing on him comprise the other part, and a significant part if Newton's immense talent translates well to the NFL.
The way Clayton sees things, the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers could justify passing on Newton in the first seven picks because both teams' coaches enjoy job security, and Newton would not help either team win right away.
Job security should not come into play.
Ken Whisenhunt's deal with the Cardinals runs through the 2013 season. Two division titles, a Super Bowl appearance and a 4-2 postseason record far outweigh one down season, but missing on a top quarterback at No. 5 would sting for years -- particularly after the Cardinals bypassed Adrian Peterson in that spot four years ago.
The 49ers' Jim Harbaugh is entering his first season with the team. He has time.
Clayton previously compared Newton to Ben Roethlisberger, the quarterback Whisenhunt worked with in Pittsburgh. Roethlisberger attempted far more passes during his final college season -- 495 to 280 -- but both players produced. Newton averaged 10.2 yards per passing attempt, compared to 9.1 for Roethlisberger.
The Newton-Roethlisberger comparison is one I'd like to explore further. It's tough to envision Whisenhunt passing on that type of player, should the comparison hold. Then again, drafting a quarterback early carries greater risks than targeting another position. It'll be tough betting everything on Newton if the Cardinals have reservations.