From Peter King of Sports Illustrated and NBC, who’ll join us once again on ProFootballTalk Live later today, comes a potentially revealing item regarding the Panthers’ possible interest in Cam Newton with the first overall pick in the draft.
King reports that the folks at the Blinn (Texas) College football offices packed up and sent four 2009 game tapes to Charlotte on Friday. The Blinn quarterback in 2009? Cam Newton.
“They wanted to see a little more tape,” Blinn Buccaneers head coach Ronny Feldman told King. “Of all the teams looking at him here, Carolina’s been the big one. They called me twice this week.”
Feldman also offered a strong assessment of Newton’s intangibles.
“I heard somebody on the radio the other day talk about his fake smile and how he’s not genuine,” Feldman told King. “That guy is full of [sh-t] with a capital ‘S.’ He doesn’t know Cam!
“I was with him day after day, side by side, for a year,” added Feldman, who served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 2009. “I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s a yes-sir, no-sir kid, 100 percent trustworthy, with a strong passion to compete at anything. What a strong, strong leader.
“The first day here [in the offseason] they were all lifting, going after it hard. When it was over, they all thought it was done. But Cam, who doesn’t even know these guys yet, says, ‘I’m gonna be out there throwing if anyone wants to come.’ Five or six go out. The next day, 10 or 15 are out with him. He comes in and says to me, ‘Coach, you got five or six pass plays from our playbook you could draw up? We’re going out there and we want to run some of our plays.’ I said, “Wooooooo.’ Then, later in the week, I see him out there running the stadium stairs, and a couple days later, he’s got a bunch of guys out there with him. A natural leader, a strong, strong leader. Charismatic.
“And he just played great for us after the first two or three weeks. He was rusty at first. But then he showed he could do whatever he wanted. The last game, our championship game against Fort Scott [Kansas], we’re down [16 points] in the third quarter, and he hurts his shoulder in the first half, and he can’t really throw it in the second half. But he plays the option and brings us back and we win it.”
It’s hardly a guarantee that the Panthers will take Newton, but if they’ve spoken to Feldman — and they presumably have — and if they believe what he’s saying, it’s another reason to think that Newton will be the first pick in the draft.
Fueling our own belief that the Panthers will be inclined to take Newton is the fact that G.M. Marty Hurney, who joined PFT Live on Friday, realizes that the NFC South contains three very strong quarterbacks in Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, and Josh Freeman. When Hurney was talking about what he calls a “quarterbacks division,” I got a very strong sense that the Panthers believe that, in order to be competitive, they need a franchise quarterback of their own.