When it comes to the 2011 NFL Draft, we have known a few things for a while. One of those things is that the upcoming draft is weak in the quarterback position. Ever since Andrew Luck made the announcement that he would return to Stanford for his senior year, NFL teams that need a quarterback (Buffalo, Carolina,..... Cincinnati?) have been scratching their heads and wondering what they would do.
The Senior Bowl, in which the Bengals coached the North Team, didn't help the situation either. Jake Locker, who many believed would be the first quarterback taken in the draft, had a bad week. Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick impressed some scouts and coaches with his ability during the Senior Bowl, but he still isn't considered a top-tier quarterback.
I feel like we're forgetting something. Wasn't there a quarterback that won the Heisman Trophy and the BCS National Championship game? Hmmmmm.
Oh yeah. Cam Newton.
In recent days, Newton has been working out and impressing people. In fact, he's done so well that he's landed himself in Todd McShay's top-10 draft picks and challenging Blaine Gabbert for the No. 1 quarterback overall. According to SB Nation's Seattle site, Newton worked out in front of the media today and looked very impressive.
But Newton took to the field in California today for a workout in front of a variety of media members, drawing rave reviews for his performance. It was enough that those in attendance, including ESPN analysts, were astounded by his performance — in a good way — with some calling him an easy top-five pick.
What does this mean for the Bengals? Well, what it means is that drafting a quarterback with their first overall pick, if they feel that's necessary due to the Carson Palmer situation, might not be a huge reach anymore.
Blaine Gabbert has scared a lot of NFL draft analysts because he's never played in a pro-style offense and the transition from the spread offense to a pro-style one can be rough, especially for a rookie quarterback. While he possesses the size of a typical NFL quarterback (6'5" 235 lbs), he may have a hard time making the necessary transition to play in the NFL, especially if he were forced into a situation where he would have to start his rookie season, which could possibly happen in Cincinnati.
Newton also has a Roethlisberger-sized NFL quarterback build (6'6" 250 lbs), and he's also proven that he has the legs to move that big body around if he needs to. He's shown impressive arm strength and passing accuracy as well as the ability to shed tackles and move in and outside of the pocket. Also, with Cincinnati's below average offensive line, Newton may have the ability to stretch out some plays that would have ended in a sack. I personally think that if Newton continues impressing people with the workouts he's been having, he could easily find himself on the Bengals radar.
The big question about Newton right now is the same one that is being asked about Gabbert. Many scouts are worried that he has played too much of the spread offense while in college and not enough of a pro-style offense. When he was asked about this worry during his workout, he said:
"That's the competitor that I am. I won't be surprised -- I'm making that leap right now -- until I'm a Super Bowl champion. That's what I'm going for from Day One, reaching for greatness. The supporting cast that I have is pushing me to be great, I'm pushing myself to be great and I demand greatness for myself. So coming in the door, working out every single day, I'm shooting for greatness."
Newton's workout also impressed a few big names in NFL. Hall of fame quarterback Warren Moon said that he only sees Newton improving, and Super Bowl winning quarterback turned NFL analyst Trent Dilfer described the workout as brilliant.
"He is a special talent," Dilfer said. "He's uniquely gifted. To be this much of a puppy, I mean, he hasn't played a lot of true quarterback in his life; to be this refined mechanically, you don't see this very often. This is the top of the top of the top. That's what you're looking at."
The main question is this: do the Bengals need a new quarterback badly enough to spend the No. 4 overall pick on one?
What do you think?