January 1, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) puts on his helmet on the sidelines during their game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-US PRESSWIRE

Will the Carolina Panthers Regret Drafting Cam Newton?


The 2012 NFL Draft is drawing ever closer with each passing day. And with every passing day leading up to the draft, more fantasy draftniks are showcasing their fantasy drafts like Sci Fi junkies showcasing their costumes at a Star Trek convention, in any semblance possible, in hopes that their board is as close to how the real action goes down, if not the closest. Recently, fantasy draft “expert” with NFL Network, Mike Mayock made an interesting statement…”I would probably take him (Andrew Luck) over Cam, yeah.”

So who cares, right? Here’s another know-it-all analyst who works for a big time media mogul, which happens to belong to the NFL. I won’t delve into bashing the guy like some folks did when commenting on the original article, but I do believe that a lot of these draftniks have a tendency to paint themselves into a corner, or are so proud of their original declarations, that they stick to their guns about them.

A year ago at this time, I’m sure many who frequented this site and the sister site, Cat Crave Radio, remember how vehemently opposed I was to even the thought of the Panthers drafting Cam Newton with their first pick in the 2011 draft. Once Carolina did draft Newton however, I began to soften my stance — a man has to know when to do this, and possibly admit when he’s wrong, which I’m still doing to this day.

To be so sure of himself though, that Luck will be the better quarterback than Newton, sounds a bit…well, like I sounded a year ago. With my predictions that Jimmy Clausen was the quarterback for this team, and that Carolina needed to stick with him. Again, know when to fold ‘em. I think it’s time for Mayock and some of these other cocky analysts, like Mel Kiper, to be able to admit defeat. It will do one thing for them at the very least: Gain respect. The more these self-proclaimed experts “win” with the outcome of their picks, the more their heads swell and the opinion of “never wrong” continues to manifest itself in their egos.

I’ll take a backseat to this debate for the most part, however. I’m not going to predict which quarterback will have the better career; I’m not going to say Newton will not have a Sophomore Slump this season, anymore than I will say that Andrew Luck is the next Peyton Manning.

In regard to Luck, I offer that he is a talented individual, who did nothing worse than gain more experience at the collegiate level, while allowing himself to mature more, while completing his degree at Stanford. I believe that if he goes to the right team — perhaps it will be Indianapolis — he has nothing to lose, and everything to gain from an excellent situation.

In respect to Newton, he surprised a lot of us this past season. He broke Peyton Manning’s rookie passing record, while setting a couple of rookie records of his own. He showed solid work ethic, as well as a “never-give-up” attitude. There wasn’t a game that I witnessed in which the Panthers were behind that Newton packed it in and gave up. Fans’ ire over media sensationalism in regard to the whole Gatorade towel “antics” of Newton aside, Cam never once seemed to take plays off or bag in a play.

After his first season in the NFL, on a team that provided a fairly loaded offense and little defensive protection, Newton fared well. A claim we can’t make yet for the soon-to-be rookie, Andrew Luck.

Let’s keep in mind too, that both quarterbacks bring their own style and flare to the field, which will force opposing defense to respect and game plan against.

Will Newton be better than Luck in the long run?…Will Luck be better than Newton? To be certain, time will tell. In the meantime, Newton has set the bar for future rookie quarterbacks, and as of right now remains a full season ahead of Luck.

Off-the-cuff, I will offer my opinion on why I believe that one quarterback is more prepared in terms of opponent strength coming into the NFL: One quarterback hails from the SEC, while the other out of the PAC12.

I’m grateful the Panthers have as talented and personable an individual on its team as Cam Newton, and because of that, in hindsight, I’m content with Luck’s decision to remain another year at Stanford.

Having proven his detractors wrong, Cam deserves the respect he has earned. In keeping with the old adage, “You always know what you have; you never know what you’re going to get.”

Follow Eric on Twitter @PSU_EQ.

Tags: 2012 NFL Draft Andrew Luck Cam Newton