While nine of 10
dentists experts agree that Cam Newton will be selected by the Carolina Panthers in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft tonight, it's not necessarily written in stone. I wouldn't go as far to say that it's Cam Newton's destiny to play football in a Panthers uniform. If there's one thing that Matt Damon taught us in the awful excuse for a movie, The Adjustment Bureau, it's that all you need is a special (spoiler alert!) fedora, and then you can go anywhere you want.
Can't you see them passing on him, though? I don't want to say that Jimmy Clausen is the answer, because I don't think he is, but he only played for one year. Doesn't drafting Newton sound kind of.... desperate?
The draft seems to be set. It's going to be Newton at No. 1, Marcell Dareus at No. 2, Von Miller at No. 3 and then A.J. Green at No. 4. We've been hearing that for over a month now. What will happen, though, if it doesn't quite go down that way? What if the Carolina Panthers pass on Cam Newton and decide to select, say, A.J. Green No. 1 overall?
Before we talk about how life as we know it will cease to exist if this happens, let's talk about why it could happen.
If the Panthers decide to give Clausen more than one season to prove himself as a quarterback, they could easily pick the best wide receiver in this year's draft, Green, to give Clausen somebody to throw to. Steve Smith may have been a great wide receiver throughout his career, but he's definitely not a young man anymore. The guy is older, often hurt and just not as productive as he used to be. Green could be his eventual replacement.
So, let's pretend that Roger Goodell just announced that the Panthers have selected A.J. Green with the first overall pick. The world goes into shock, lightning strikes somewhere twice, the oceans begin to boil, the skies open up and M. Night Shyamalan's head explodes. Once the initial shock wears off, what happens next?
The Bengals need a quarterback, that's not news. We've reported lately that they have been more interested in TCU's Andy Dalton and Florida State's Christian Ponder than they are in Newton or Missouri's Blaine Gabbert. However, head coach Marvin Lewis and the rest of the Bengals coaching staff spent a fair amount of time with Newton, Lewis even called him "magnetic" and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden's older brother, Jon, was impressed as well. It's possible that the only reason the Bengals are looking at Dalton and Ponder is because they figured that Newton was already going to be off the board when they go on the clock. If he's not, will they jump on the opportunity to select him?
The Bengals are in a tough spot. The quarterbacks that are likely the safer picks, Dalton and Ponder, may be available when the Bengals go on the clock in the second round, but they might not be. There could easily be a mad dash to get quarterbacks in the first round from teams like the Titans, the Seahawks and the Dolphins that could leave the Bengals high and dry at pick No. 35. If a guy like Cam Newton is available at No. 4, the Bengals may think seriously about selecting him, especially if they're nervous that if they don't, they won't have somebody to pick in the second round.
There's no question that Newton could add pages upon pages to Jay Gruden's new playbook and there isn't another quarterback in this year's draft class that has as much upside (or downside). If the Bengals picked Cam Newton and it worked out, Bengals fans could watch one of the most physically gifted and dynamic quarterbacks lead their offense down the field and hopefully to the playoffs. However, if it doesn't work out, Bengals fans would find themselves, well, back in the 90s.
Needless to say, if the Carolina Panthers decide to pass on Newton, it could definitely throw a wrench in the gears of the draft for a lot of teams, especially the Bengals.