Sometimes the most difficult questions can only be answered by bringing the brightest minds together, Roundtable style. Today's question: who would you rather have right now, Cam Newton or Andrew Luck?
If Andrew Luck left Stanford last year, the Carolina Panthers were going to take him No. 1 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. He didn't, and they were "stuck" with Cam Newton, one of the most highly-debated quarterback prospects in NFL history.
Cam's been, um, pretty good this year, if you'll indulge a little reverse hyperbole. But is he good enough to warrant passing on Luck, the biggest can't-miss prospect since John Elway in 1983? Who would you take right now if you had to pick one quarterback -- Luck or Cam?
Pete Prisco: Cam Newton or Andrew Luck? Isn't that like asking whether you want pepperoni pizza or sausage pizza? Prefer DeNiro or Pacino? You can't go wrong with either of them, even if they are different.
Newton, the Panthers' hotshot rookie, has proven a lot of doubters wrong. He hasn't played like a rookie, and he sure doesn't play like some expected. He is a pocket passer, not a player who runs around. He isn't Vince Young, but more like Ben Roethlisberger. As for Luck, he might be the cleanest NFL prospect since John Elway. I love the way he plays the game. He is smart, accurate, tough and carries himself like the next great star.
So who's my choice? I'll take Luck -- but barely.
PS: I like both sausage and pepperoni on my pie.
Mike Freeman:This is a serious question? Take a player who is proving to be one of the most dynamic rookies in history over an unproven commodity? Take the next great quarterback over a guy whom we have no idea how he'll react once the Klieg lights start to burn?
Not only would I take Newton over Luck. I'd take Christian Ponder as well.
Just remember these two words when anyone guarantees how a college player is going to star on the next level: JaMarcus Russell.
Clark Judge: This one's a no-brainer. I'll choose Andrew Luck because he's the perfect pro prospect, trained in a pro system where he takes snaps from center, operates out of the pocket and has experience with reads and progressions. No, he can't run like Cam Newton, but what do you want -- a quarterback or a running back? Me? I want someone who wins, is accurate, knows where to go with the football, makes quick and smart decisions and doesn't make stupid mistakes. Andrew Luck not only is the best quarterback in this year's draft; he's the best player, period. And he might be the best prospect in years. He took a program that hasn't had a history of great success, put it on his shoulders and carried it into the top 10. I have no doubt he can do that at the next level.
Ryan Wilson: Without hestitation: Cam Newton. The simple answer is that we've seen Newton for two months and not only is he a legit NFL quarterback, but if he continues to improve, even if incrementally, he's a top-10 quarterback.
Luck, by all accounts, is a once-in-a-genration talent, the best, most complete passer since John Elway in the early '80s. I don't disagree but here's the thing: say you watched last Saturday's Stanford-USC game on a black and white television and the decals had been removed from the helmets. Would it it be obvious to you that Luck was the superior talent compared to Matt Barkley? Did Luck even outplay Barkley?
Josh Katzowitz: We've seen what Newton can do in a real, live NFL game. We've seen him use his amazing athleticism. We've seen his arm strength. We haven't seen him win much, but he will. What do we know about Andrew Luck? He's one hell of a college player. But so was Tim Tebow. So was Eric Crouch and JaMarcus Russell. Hell, even Jason White was pretty damn good in college. I'm not saying Luck is like any of those guys, and I'm not saying Luck can't be a better quarterback than Newton. But we know what we've got so far in Newton. We don't know squat about how Luck will perform in real, live NFL games. I'll go with the awesome present instead of taking my chances on a future that might or might not be more awesome.
Will Brinson: You know how we spend every waking moment debating Tim Tebow's existence? You might have forgotten, but we did the exact same thing all summer long, only it was about Cam Newton and whether he could be an NFL quarterback. We are no longer doing that, because Newton's doing something that Andrew Luck hasn't done yet: succeed in the NFL. Even the Panthers would probably admit if Luck had left Stanford they would have taken him, because Newton wasn't a sure thing.
But he's a sure thing now, unlike Luck. Don't get me wrong -- I buy the hype on the Stanford quarterback. And he could very well be a once-in-a-generation guy.
But Cam Newton and all his physical abilities are once-in-a-lifetime. We've never seen a person play quarterback that has the combination of mobility, physical stature, arm strength, etc., as Newton. Now that he's shown he can adapt to the NFL game and that his learning curve is vastly shorter than any of us ever imagined, the sky is absolutely the limit with him as an NFL quarterback. And while we may eventually see someone like Newton again, it certainly won't be in next year's draft.
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