Both teams were playing for a BCS National Championship last night, but no one player had as much on the line as Cam Newton. Because he only has one year of full-time starting experience against high level opposition, nobody is really sure how his Heisman skills will translate to the NFL. This game would be Newton's best opportunity to show the Country, and NFL scouts, that he is worthy of a high first round pick.
So how did he play? Pretty good. Not great, but not horribly. Overall solid, I guess. He certainly didn't play at the level we had grown accustomed to this year, but he did play well enough to win, and that certainly means something. But Oregon wasn't the best defense that Newton faced this year, and they made him seem human when he had been anything but all season long. So what does all that mean for his draft stock?
Our old friend Michael Wilbon wrote on ESPN.com that Newton's ability to play through pain was inspiring, and that there is no way he shouldn't be the first overall pick in April's NFL Draft.
The reports that A.J. Green, the Georgia receiver, ranks higher on some NFL draft boards than Newton is laughable. Talent evaluators sometimes overthink these things, such as when they decide the Matthews boys should be passed over in favor of others who are supposedly more talented. Sure, right.
Strong words from someone with no history of professional talent evaluation. Newton has shown that he has the talent to be an elite quarterback, but let's not forget that there are reasons that this is his first season of competitive football. I personally think Newton will be able to play in the NFL, but it is far from the lock that he makes it out to be; and I've been known to be wrong about that type of thing before.
It's easy for Wilbon to make those claims when his job wouldn't be on the line for making that pick and he isn't the fan of a team that could make a potentially franchise altering decision. Niners Nation, our San Fransisco 49ers blog is pleading that their team not spend their sixth overall pick on Newton.
if there's one thing I can take from the game, it's that I do not, under any circumstances, want Cam Newton as the quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers next season. I'm not basing it solely off of that game, but it definitely affirmed and solidified my position. He's just not that great of a passer, he doesn't make the best decisions and he's not all-that accurate. I see no upside to drafting him, honestly. I don't really know who I want at this point, but I imagine the picture will become a bit clearer in the coming months.
When it boils down to it, taking Newton is a risky proposition for an NFL franchise. When you're drafting high in the first round, a risk is the last thing you want to take. He could pay off big, but missing on a selection in the top ten, particularly at quarterback, could really hurt a franchise. But it only takes one team to fall in love with a guy to make him a top ten pick. That team very well could be the Redskins, if they feel that he has enough talent to make it worth the risk at tenth overall.