Ask those same analysts who the Panthers should pick and it inspires a much more spirited debate.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper says the Panthers should go with Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green.
Todd McShay, Kiper’s ESPN colleague, can’t decide between Green, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus or Texas A&M linebacker Von Miller.
Scouts Inc. ranks Dareus as the No. 1 player available in this year’s draft. Newton? He’s 16th in their rankings.
When the smoke clears, NFL draft analyst Mike Detillier thinks not only that the Panthers will take Newton but also that they really have no choice.
“In the ultimate dice roll of dice rolls, I think Carolina goes with Newton,” Detillier said. “It’s such a quarterback-driven world. While it’s a tough decision, I think that’s who the Panthers have to pick.”
While various analysts nitpick Newton for real or perceived flaws, Detillier said the inescapable fact of the matter is that Newton is a one of a kind talent whose upside is too big to pass up.
“I’ve been doing this for 27 years, and I’ve never seen anyone do what he did in one year,” Detillier said. “He was a phenom. He took what was probably an eight-win Auburn team and led them to a national championship. And he did that with a lot of off the field distractions the last half of the season. Not only did he handle that, he played even better.”
Newton won’t be Auburn’s only first-round pick. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley also factors into the top half of tonight’s first round.
“I think Nick is going to be a top 10 pick,” Detillier said. “There may be some questions about his hustle and desire. Is he a one-year wonder? He was the most dominant front seven player in college football last year. The question is: Will he give you that effort, game in, game out?”
Most analysts project Fairley to go to the Tennessee Titans, who hold the No. 8 pick in tonight’s first round.
If so, Fairley would be reunited with former Auburn defensive line coach Tracy Rocker who left the Auburn staff to take a similar position with the Titans.
“Tennessee is taking a long look at him because of the Rocker connection,” Detillier said. “If there’s somebody there to push him, Fairley’s got a chance to be something special in the NFL.”
After Newton and Fairley, offensive tackle Lee Ziemba is likely the next Auburn player to get drafted.
Detillier projects Ziemba will go late in the third round or early in the fourth.
However, Ziemba’s agent, Bryant Aryault, is confident his client won’t be on the board past the third round.
“Everything we’re hearing is that he’ll be a late second or early third-round pick,” Aryalt said.
There’s a long list of Auburn players who could go in the latter rounds, including linebacker Josh Bynes, wide receivers Darvin Adams and Terrell Zachery, offensive linemen Mike Berry and Ryan Pugh, defensive end Zach Clayton and place kicker Wes Byrum.
Rounds two and three will be held on Friday, with rounds four through seven on Saturday.