Last night I described Cam Newton as getting a head start on Missouri's Blaine Gabbert in the race to be the first quarterback selected in the 2011 draft.
According to Gil Brandt, the race is already over.
Brandt, an NFL.com analyst and longtime Dallas Cowboys' director of personnel, was quoted by Jimmy Burch in Monday's Star Telegram that he'd be "shocked" if Newton was not the No. 1 overall pick of the draft.
While Newton is unquestionably talented , Brandt's prediction is a bold one. Just because Newton is a spectacular athletic talent and plays the quarterback position does not necessarily mean he should be the first player selected. Newton's numerous character concerns and adjustment to a pro-style offense require significant investigation.
Perhaps Brandt and some clubs have learned enough already about Newton. I have not. I look forward to watching his interview and workout. Both will have play a considerable role in my ultimate grade on his NFL prospects.
Perhaps most importantly, it is important to note the fit that Newton may or may not have with the Carolina Panthers, who, of course, own the No. 1 overall pick.
This is a team currently built around the running game. While the Panthers could lose impending free agent DeAngelo Williams, they boast the talents of Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson and a solid run-blocking offensive line. On the one hand, adding a multi-purpose threat like Newton might seem like the perfect addition to the club. On the other hand, however, a ball control quarterback might be a better fit for a team likely to be built around the running the ball and defense -- the style of play new head coach Ron Rivera is thought to prefer.
Rivera's offensive coordinator, Rob Chudzinski, might also be making a huge adjustment should the Panthers elect to take Newton. Chudzinski, who was promoted to this role after serving as the tight ends coach and assistant head coach for the Chargers last season, may not have the experience with multi-purpose quarterbacks to endorse such an obvious gamble on pure athletiicsm.