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Why the Carolina Panthers Need Cam Newton

Can one player make all the difference? No, not in the NFL.

But adding one player can make an organization look like a collective genius. For example, the St. Louis Rams add Sam Bradford and now look like a promising young team on the upswing. And of course, on the other side of the spectrum, the Carolina Panthers are in a deep hole because it looks as though they missed on their QB prospect, Jimmy Clausen.

The talking heads of the NFL all agree that the NFL is a quarterback-driven league. No player offers the upside, big arm

The Panthers will have to make a decision if they already haven’t about Jimmy Clausen’s future? If he’s not the guy next year, a QB in round one is a must and that quarterback has to be Cam Newton.

Carolina has four big position needs: defensive tackle, quarterback, offensive guard and wide receiver.

They won’t select an offensive guard with the first pick so it boils down to three positions: QB, DT and WR. With new head coach Ron Rivera in the fold, selecting a DT or WR would be the wrong choice and I have two examples to illustrate it.

First, think of the San Francisco 49ers. They selected Michael Crabtree with the No. 10 pick in the 2009 NFL Draft. With the No. 17 pick, Tampa Bay selected Josh Freeman. Instead, San Francisco waited until the fifth round to select Nate Davis who is no longer with the team. While Crabtree is great, he’s got no one to throw him the ball and the Bucs are moving their way towards playoff contention.

Next, in that same draft, with the No. 9 pick the Packers selected B.J. Raji, a defensive tackle. While a nose tackle in a 3-4 defense is very important, the Packers already had numerous pieces in place and addressed those needs after positions like quarterback had been well-established.

Of course, there is no blueprint on how to build a team or which position appropriately begins a rebuilding process but all the right players across the field won’t matter if a team doesn’t have a great quarterback.

The perceived problem with this quarterback class is that each of the top prospects has big question marks coming into the league. Newton has character issues and looks inaccurate. Blaine Gabbert was not productive in his junior season despite playing in an offense where his numbers should’ve been huge. Ryan Mallett has off-the-field and character concerns. Jake Locker plays erratically, struggles to read defenses and lacks accuracy.

But what separates Newton is his outstanding athleticism and natural charisma. Sure, he’s going to have to win over teammates after making a few silly comments in the press, but the NFL is full of big egos like any other sport.

With the right mentoring and coaching, Newton can absolutely succeed in the NFL even if it takes a couple seasons to guide him in the right direction.

More 2011 NFL Draft Coverage

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About The Author

Matt De Lima is the guy behind the guy behind the guy. Born and raised near Los Angeles, CA during simpler times where the Rams and Raiders both played there. Back when Eddie Murphy was funny and people still listened to Whitney Houston's music. A graduate of Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!), he's played fantasy sports for the last 10 years and began writing down his opinions in 2010. You remember that fantasy football league you were in last season, there was that one team that somehow had Aaron Rodgers, Chris Johnson, and Andre Johnson? Matt was that guy. You should listen to him. Follow his exclusive content @ OpenSports.com

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