Tim Tebow was drafted in the first round by the Denver Broncos last year. That decision was such an overwhelming success that the organization was mocked and ridiculed, the Broncos finished 4-12 and coach Josh McDaniels, who pushed the button on the decision, was fired.
Cam Newton is expected to be the first overall pick of tonight’s NFL draft by Carolina. There’s a pretty good chance many will ridicule them for it. But it says here the Panthers would not be making a mistake.
I can’t remember the last time two quarterbacks caused so much debate and even moronic dissection going into a draft. One draft analyst, Nolan Narwocki of Pro Football Weekly, even declared that Newton “has a fake smile.”
If that were the determining factor for success, you can throw out half of the Hall of Fame.
I am not a draft expert, something I’m comfortable admitting since even draft experts are not draft experts. (Hindsight proves that.) But I’ll go out on a limb on this one: Cam Newton will succeed as a starting NFL quarterback and Tim Tebow won’t.
Before I turn it over to you for your thoughts on the subject — and don’t forget to vote in our poll — here are some thoughts from your amateur draftnik.
♦ Tebow: He’s a great kid. He’s popular. He’s religious. I’m guessing you’ve heard all of those things. Did you also know that he ranked fifth in the NFL in jersey sales last season? The top five: 1) Troy Polamalu (Super Bowl winner); 2) Aaron Rodgers (Super Bowl winner); 3) Drew Brees (Super Bowl winner); 4) Peyton Manning (Super Bowl winner); 5) Tebow (9 games, 3 starts, five touchdowns, three interceptions, one fumble, six sacks).
Tebow is a project. He was a great college quarterback who projected as a mid-round pick for a team to take a flier on. McDaniels was a young, cocky coach with an offensive background and his ego convinced him that he could turn Tebow into something great. It was a bad decision. Now Tebow is stuck on a bad team with Brady Quinn and Kyle Orton to learn from. Good luck with that. If anything, there’s less of a chance of Tebow developing now than there was before.
♦ Newton: He has NFL-caliber talent. He has size, speed, strength. He enables a coach to expand the playbook because of his speed. The one trait he and Tebow shared in college is they both knew how to come through in big moments and win big games. The difference is that Newton progressed at a ridiculous rate from the start of last season with Auburn to the end. Tebow, not so much. Newton went from off the NFL radar to projected first-rounder. Tebow remained a source for debate.
Nobody ever has faced the scrutiny and pressure Newton did last season leading up to big games. He succeeded anyway. Whether you believe he is guilty or innocent of shenanigans surrounding his recruiting process, his resolve and resilience are undeniable.
Are there red flags with Newton? Absolutely. NFL teams don’t quickly dismiss potential character flaws before drafts, especially when considering taking the player in the first round. But it’s hard for me to look at what he did in one season at Auburn and project that he is going to faceplant as a pro.
Those are my thoughts. Now, I welcome yours.
NFL draft coverage: I’ll be blogging at least two more times today on the draft. The next post likely will be an early Falcons’ draft column, to be updated later tonight.
By Jeff Schultz