Cam Newton has officially declared for the NFL Draft. Everyone saw this coming. But everyone has no idea where he is going to play next year so let's talk about it. Over the next few months Cam is going to have to prove to scouts that he can be an accurate passer and is smart enough to learn a pro style offense, read WR progressions, and decipher NFL defenses. The physical part should be fine considering it was his size, at 6'6" 250 lbs., and physical tools that allowed him to completely dominate College Football with no experience at all.
Assuming that he doesn't completely bomb all the testing over the next three months, it's a pretty safe bet that he'll be a 1st Round pick in April's Draft. So what team's could be willing to take a shot on Cam Newton? Here are the teams drafting in the first round that I think could legitimately take a QB.
4. Cincinnati (4-12)
5. Arizona (5-11)
7. San Francisco (6-10)
8. Tennessee (6-10)
10. Washington (6-10)
12. Minnesota (6-10)
15. Miami (7-9)
16. Jacksonville (8-8)
21. Kansas City (10-6)
Due to Cam's relative inexperience, he is most likely going to need some time to learn and adjust to the pro game. Any team that drafts him will likely have to have a veteran in place who they are phasing out or they'll have to completely overhaul the position by bringing in both Cam and a Veteran who will eventually become the backup. The teams that fit into that first column are Buffalo, Cincinnati, Miami, Jacksonville, and Kansas City. All of those teams have decent QBs who are capable but certainly not Pro-Bowlers. A capable QB is okay if you have a very dominant defense and a solid running game, but you don't get a Top 15 pick with both of those, so it's pretty clear that most of these teams could use an upgrade at QB. The other teams Arizona, San Francisco, Tennessee, Washington, and Minnesota need to just start over at the QB position by getting a young QB to start or groom and some veteran help by way of free agency.
The CBA negotiations are going to make this year much different than any off-season we've seen before. If there is no CBA, teams technically can't make any trades because that agreement defines the terms in which teams are allowed to make trades. It's also going to hold up any sort of free agency. There are a few different forms that free agency could take this off-season but because they all depend on the CBA there isn't really any way to know what's going to happen until serious negotiations start to take place instead of all this posturing. Free agency might actually not take place until after the Draft this year which would make things very interesting and could make teams look for players who they think will be able to help their team immediately rather than guys who would need to be taught a whole new system but with more upside.
All of this uncertainty is going to make for a very action packed off-season. Maybe it's all part of Roger Goodell's master plan to keep fans interested all year long rather than just during the 4 month season? But no matter what happens there will be a draft and unless something really crazy happens, we can expect Cam Newton to be taken in the 1st round by one of those teams. Unless of course one of those crazy smart drafting teams like the Eagles or Patriots decides to hoard 1st round QBs and they take Newton in order to trade him for a bounty when Free Agency does eventually open up. But don't count on that.
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