According to ESPN's James Walker, the Cincinnati Bengals are meeting with Auburn quarterback Cam Newton on Sunday and Monday, and Walker calls this "Cincinnati's final chance to get an up-close and personal look at Newton."
Carson Palmer's trade demands have left the Bengals without a quarterback and the current lockout leaves the draft as the only option to fill the giant void left by the disgruntled quarterback. Newton has been one of the names knocked around by draftniks and experts all over the country. Some believe he's worthy of a top-five pick and others believe he's nothing but the next Akili Smith.
Regardless of what "experts" think about Newton, each team will need to make up their own minds about his potential to make or break their team. Walker believes that the Bengals are going to have to accomplish three things during Newtons visit.
First, separate fact from fiction:
Lately there are so many conflicting things said and written about Newton on and off the field that it's hard to determine what is accurate. The Bengals will spend plenty of time talking and running Newton through drills to make their own determination about his personality, leadership and physical abilities.
Second, figure out if Newton can fit into Jay Gruden's new system:
Through scouting and game tape, the Bengals by now should have a firm idea if Newton can fit their new West Coast offense. But this final evaluation should add to their knowledge. Newton spent his career at Auburn playing in a spread offense and will have to make the adjustment of playing under center in the NFL. The Bengals need to find out if this is an issue.
Third, finalize their draft board:
Following Monday's private workout, the Bengals should know if Newton is worthy of the No. 4 overall pick. Cincinnati has done its homework on just about every major quarterback prospect and should be finalizing its board with the draft just a few weeks away. The Bengals have to take a quarterback at some point in this draft, and it probably will happen in the first two rounds.
The two-day meeting with Newton could finally make the Bengals decide what to do in the first round. Many draft experts believe that the consensus No. 1 quarterback will be off the board when the Bengals go off the clock at No. 4. If Newton impresses the Bengals, they may decide he's worth the risk that high in the first round. If not, they'll likely decide to go wide receiver or defense with the No. 4 overall pick and then look for a quarterback in the second round.
This weekend's meeting with Newton could completely decide the fate of the Bengals for the next few years.