The NFL Draft is quickly approaching and the Carolina Panthers, who hold the #1 overall pick, still haven’t tipped their hand. Most experts currently have them going with Auburn QB Cam Newton, but with a defensive minded head coach in Ron Rivera, they might surprise and go defense.
The one thing most scouts agree on is that both Newton and Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert are the top two quarterbacks available. A couple weeks back it was closer to a toss up between the two, I even had the Panthers taking Gabbert in my mock, but these days Mock Drafters are about 90% going with Newton at #1.
I’ve since changed my mind and now expect the Panthers to take the 6’5″ 250 pound, athletic former Auburn Tiger. But is that the pick I’d make if I were actually charged with making their selection? No. I think the Panthers should go defense and give Jimmy Clausen another year to gain some experience. It’s not because I think Newton will bust as a pro, because I think he’ll be a real good, but because I think the Panthers would be better served to shore up their secondary with Patrick Peterson the LSU corner. Peterson will be a hell of a pro.
I kind of went off on a tangent there. To get back to my title; Newton or Gabbert? Both are physically gifted players that can make all the throws. Newton has some character red flags according to some scouts, while Gabbert is considered a safe pick. I think Newton has a much higher ceiling but if he is rushed or ends up in a scheme that dosen’t fit his talents he could struggle.
Gabbert is a safer pick as far as his floor is much higher. Worst case scenario you have a 12-15 year vet that won’t lose games for you, and will always be prepared to play. The recent revelation that Gabbert has a near photographic memory is just crazy. The most difficult thing for a young quarterback to do is to learn an NFL playbook. From the sounds of things that won’t be an issue for Gabbert.
So the question remains. Which QB do you think is tops in this Draft? If I had to pick one to start my franchise with, I’d go with Newton based on his incredible upside. But. I would bring him along slowly, allowing him to gain full grasp of his offense.