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And Another Thing

Associated Press
Cam Newton

Caught in a draft

Unavoidably, it seems, the Blob has been sucked into the vortex of the NFL draft, a made-for-TV four-day miniseries in which a) we wait all a-tremble for the moment in the sixth round when the 49ers select that bodacious punter from Bemidji State; b) Donald Trump appears out of nowhere, trailing the usual mindless media poodles, and demands to see Cam Newton's birth certificate; and c) we exit stage left after four days with glazed eyes and a brain the consistency of oatmeal, and immediately begin babbling that the pot roast has major upside.

Yeesh. Would that I could have avoided all that.

Instead, against my better judgment, here's a couple of thoughts to send you off toward Mel Kiper Jr.'s clutches tonight:

* If the Carolina Panthers select Newton as the No. 1 pick, it will be a glaring indication of just how much the NFL has become a hotbed of instant gratification.

Here's the deal: The old rule of thumb was that it took five years to fully develop a working NFL quarterback. Now, apparently, that's down to three at the outside, more likely two and perhaps even one. Because, listen, if the Panthers do take Cam, it's because they've already given up on Jimmy Clausen -- who, remember, the Panthers drafted in the first round last year as their presumptive QB of the future.

Well. One predictably rocky year in, and it's clear the Panthers have already given up on him. Which makes you wonder what would have happened to the likes of, say, Terry Bradshaw or Jim Plunkett had they come along today.

Plunkett, remember, struggled for years with a woeful New England team before re-inventing himself as a Super Bowl-winning quarterback in Oakland. And Bradshaw was inconsistent at best for three or so seasons before turning into the quarterback who won four Super Bowls with the Steelers. He's now in the Hall of Fame.

If they come along today, odds are we never hear of either one.

* That said ... I'm trying to think of a logical reason why Carolina would roll the dice on Newton. Coming up empty.

No. 1, the character issues would bother me greatly, if I'm them. They just would.

No. 2, Newton's obvious athletic skills aside, or perhaps not aside, he did a lot of things at Auburn with his feet. I'd be leery of a quarterback whose skill at running the football tended to overshadow, or at the very least set up, his skill at throwing it. He's not going to be lowering his head and running over linebackers in the NFL.

No. 3, why, if you're Carolina, do you take an upside-with-questions guy when waiting in the wings is an upside-with-upside guy like Andrew Luck? Why wouldn't you take, say, Patrick Peterson with the first pick this year, then come back and get Luck -- a much less risky investment than Newton -- next year?

Inquiring minds want to know.

* Finally, all indications are the Colts will take an offensive lineman with their first pick. I hope so, because the OL clearly showed its age and lack of depth last year. More to the point, Peyton Manning likely hopes so.

That is all.

Ben Smith's blog.