Newton’s pro day shows why he should go No. 1

AUBURN, Ala. — Cam Newton had told me earlier Tuesday that he let me down at the NFL Scouting Combine and that he’d make up for it during his personal workout.

Consider Newton a man of his word. And if I’m the Panthers, I would take this quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick.

The main attraction of Auburn’s pro day put on quite the show before representatives from all 32 teams (approximately 125 personnel folks), including five head coaches — Ron Rivera (Panthers), John Fox (Broncos), Marvin Lewis (Bengals), Ken Whisenhunt (Cardinals), and Pat Shurmur (Browns).

Newton threw 60 scripted passes — all from under center — and missed on just six of them. Two of his throws were too high, and in four cases he led the receiver too far. Still, Newton was so much more accurate than he was at the combine. He has a tendency to throw high, but the fact that he was throwing to his own receivers was an asset.

I’ve got to give Newton even more credit for his performance, considering he dealt with windy conditions inside the stadium. The improvement in Newton’s accuracy was impressive on that basis alone.

Look, we could criticize players to the point that we’ll find holes in almost anybody’s game. And since Newton is such a polarizing figure, that seems to be the case. So expect the evaluations of his workout to be all across the board.

But, like I said, he was so much better today than he was in Indianapolis. And if I was Carolina, I’d pull the trigger and draft this kid No. 1.

An interesting side note: Newton and his agents, Tony Paige and Bus Cook, had dinner with the Buffalo Bills the night before. So clearly, there is an interest there.

What else stood out to me at Auburn’s pro day:

– The co-main attraction, DT Nick Fairley, worked out just like you’d expect him to. He was fluid, he was quick, and he was impressive. I think he’s one of the two best defensive tackles in the draft, along with Alabama’s Marcell Dareus, who will work out tomorrow.

– DL Zach Clayton (6-foot-2, 299 pounds) worked out really well and went from not being drafted to drafted with his workout. He’s an overachiever, and I was impressed with his athletic ability. He ran a 4.87-second 40-yard dash, had a 33 1/2-inch vertical, 10-foot broad jump, 4.46 short shuttle, and a 7.35 3-cone drill. I thought he was the biggest surprise here.


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