Unless this is all some hugely elaborate ruse and everyone has been completely duped by a wily Carolina Panthers front office I think we're all going to need to realize the writing is on the wall, and it looks like Cam Newton will be holding a Carolina Panthers jersey on April 28th.
Barring some event like Newton completely bombing on his play book test next week there seems to be an almost universal belief now that the Panthers will take Newton. This has pretty much been the consistent theme coming from the organization itself who since day one have shown the most interest in Newton, while others orbit around the periphery drifting in and out, but never really making a significant impact.
NFL.com's Albert Breer wrote a piece this afternoon summing up the QB prospects in this draft, and the fact that Newton seems to be the consensus #1 QB among NFL executives. We'll look at Breer's piece a little more...
After the jump
What Breer calls a 'very veteran' NFC Personnel executive told him:
"I'd be shocked if Cam isn't the first pick."
Meanwhile another NFC front office member said:
"If I had the first pick, I'd take him."
I went back since 2001 and did a month out search in each draft and I couldn't find a single example where a player was getting such effusive praise less than 30 days out, but didn't end up being the #1 selection. January, February and March have been marred with smokescreen, but typically its the most likely candidate as April begins who winds up being the choice.
Even Mike Mayock who has been, and is still the #1 proponent of Blaine Gabbert is starting to believe Newton could likely be the pick. In an interview with the NFL Network Mayock said that although 9/10 teams he's talked to have Gabbert rated higher than Newton, he believes all it takes is one team having Newton higher, and that very well could be Carolina.
When pressed Mayock said he didn't truly know for sure, but did say the Panthers are doing all the right things to make the rest of the league think they are equally interested in both QBs so they can be, as Mayock put it 'open for business'. He asserted the Panthers would be looking to move down a couple of spots, while still ensuring they get one of the top QBs in the draft. Buffalo looks like the most likely partner now, as GM Buddy Nix has expressed a similar interest in both Newton and Gabbert, while as Mayock put it "Arizona could be out the outside looking in".
If 9/10 teams like Gabbert more, but Carolina are the 10th who prefer Newton then the ideal situation could occur where Carolina gets to move back, amass more picks and still get their guy. While Cam Newton may not be my no.1 choice, if he's Hurney, Rivera and Chud's then I'll welcome him with open arms.