Cam Newton’s very, very likely to declare for the NFL draft after the National Championship game. He’s probably played his way into the first round of the NFL draft, if you believe guys like Mel Kiper, Todd McShay, Peter King, or anyone who has watched a few of Auburn’s games this season. What team is most likely to draft him? We’ll whittle down the options, just like we did last month during the Andrew Luck sweepstakes.
Don’t need a QB/Are very highly unlikely to pick one in the first round (18):
AFC: Patriots, Jets, Steelers, Ravens, Jaguars, Colts, Texans, Chiefs, Chargers
NFC: Eagles, Giants, Cowboys, Bears, Packers, Falcons, Saints, Bucs, Rams
Teams that could give Newton some thought, but have some questions to answer prior to the draft (5)
Bengals – What becomes of Carson “Pick Six” Palmer? He turns 31 in a couple weeks. Can they move him? At 2-10, maybe they decide to ditch Marvin Lewis and Carson Palmer and start over.
Broncos – Do you like Kyle Orton? He’s tailed off the last few weeks after a strong start. Plus, 2010 1st rounder Tim Tebow is waiting in the wings. Unlikely they’d take Newton … but let’s wait to see what they do with the coaching situation.
Redskins - Donovan McNabb’s actually had a solid season. But they can save a lot of money by cutting him after this season.
Lions – As mentioned in the Luck post, Detroit’s sunk $41 into Matthew Stafford, whose career so far has been plagued by injuries. Slim chance they take a chance on Newton considering all the holes that need filling, but has this franchise done anything conventional in the last few years?
Oakland - The coach likes Bruce Gradkowski. The owner likes Jason Campbell (who went to Auburn). If the Raiders can stop the run next year and protect the QB a little better, they will contend with the Chargers/Chiefs in the AFC West. But if you’re picking around 16th, do you build for the future with Newton, or is the Campbell/Gradkowski combo good enough to get you through the next few years?
Teams that probably have him on the board in their War Room (9)
Carolina – But probably will have the first pick and take Andrew Luck.
Buffalo – Likely to have a Top 5 pick. Chan Gailey likes Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Newton, based on 14 games, probably doesn’t go in the Top 5 unless he wows at the combine, too.
Arizona - Desperate for a QB. Since the Cards will be picking in the Top 10, would they consider Jake Locker or Ryan Mallet ahead of Newton?
San Francisco – Hard-up for a QB. First order of business is to decide whether or not to retain Singletary. Newton would have weapons for early success (Gore, Davis, Crabtree).
Minnesota - This would be very favorable. Peterson, Rice, Harvin … if Newton lands here, playing on the turf indoors … wow, Vikings could be deadly. If I’m Mr. Zygi Wilf, I tell Favre to chill out and relax, I tell Percy Harvin to rest up, and I start giving Toby Gerhart more carries over the final three games.
Tennessee – A popular idea for a landing spot. Do they keep Vince Young and let Jeff Fisher go? Let both go?
Cleveland - Colt McCoy has done some nice things in his rookie season (with weak skill players around him).
Seattle – They don’t really think Charlie Whitehurst is the future, do they?
Miami - Chad Henne’s been awful, Chad Pennington is probably done, and Tyler Thigpen is a career backup. With the Wildcat already built in, plus Brandon Marshall, the Dolphins could be dangerous next year.
We’d say (today) the most likely landing spots are San Francisco (19th-ish pick), Minnesota (12h-ish pick) and Miami (20th-ish pick), but as a Jets fan, we hope he doesn’t end up with the Dolphins.