Newton to Panthers (in NFL Network’s mock draft)

NEW YORK – It’s not the most formal of mock drafts, but NFL Network’s third annual roundtable mock draft is one of our last looks at how the analysts see the first round of the NFL draft unfolding.

While NFL Network host Rich Eisen brushes off notes to pull his picks from a vat of football knowledge, the seven

Michael Irvin selects Cam Newton for the Panthers' No. 1 pick in the NFL Network mock draft on Tuesday, April 26 in New York. (Ben Liebenberg/NFL)

analysts involved –- Michael Irvin, Brian Billick, Charles Davis, Michael Lombardi, Marshall Faulk, Steve Mariucci and Bucky Brooks -– take the proceedings fairly seriously. As such, it serves –- in most cases — as a final barometer for what could happen when the draft convenes in about 48 hours.

Irvin was first on the clock picking for the Panthers, and to no one’s surprise “The Playmaker” took a playmaker.

“If I’m Carolina, I’m going to draft a playmaker, and that’s Cam Newton,” Irvin said. “The guy had one system, maybe it was a simple system, but he transferred it to a national title. If I’m a coach, I put it on me to teach him the NFL game. The rest, he’ll do.”

No one in this room was surprised, and for the most part there was little disagreement. The lone dissenter was Lombardi.

“Are you writing that check for $55 million?” barked Lombardi, who clearly favors Blaine Gabbert.

Watch for video highlights from the NFL Network mock draft on later Tuesday night.

— Frank Tadych

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