Monday, February 21, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: Cam Newton Could Bring a Potential Shakeup to the Dallas Cowboys

NFL Draft Prospect Cam Newton, Right, Looks
Cam Newton and the 2011 NFL Draft.

Two topics that will be making the rounds more and more over the next couple of months leading up to the NFL Draft. While the talk surrounding the April draft will center around who will be drafted where by just about every draft expert, they'll also be wondering aloud if there will even be an NFL season in 2011.
While they might be of some interest to me, I'd rather talk about one player in particular. He's a guy that's been getting a lot of talk around the football circles over the last few weeks. Former Auburn quarterback, Cam Newton. Call me crazy but I think this young athlete has more potential than will be seen by a lot of NFL teams. He's going to be seen as a risk because of everything his name, and his father's name, has been attached to over the past year and beyond.

We all know about the laptop incident, we know about him almost being expelled from the University of Florida and we know about the rumors that circulated about his father trying to solicit money from Mississippi State for his son's signature on the letter of intent.

Those of us that have argued about Newton over the past year and change know that most of us haven't come to an agreement. It's not that we don't see each other's points, we just don't believe that either one of us is wrong-but I digress.

Newton is going to be a name that everyone is going to be interested in talking about. He's a guy that some believe can be an effective quarterback in the NFL and then there will be those who don't believe he can play the position at all in the next level.

You've heard what ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer said about Newton and his thoughts were echoed by CBS Sports college football analyst, Bryan Fischer, when I talked to him last week.

However, that hasn't stopped those who are skeptical about the kind of player Newton is. The kind of quarterback who is a run first kind of guy. It's not something that's worked for a lot of quarterbacks outside of Philadelphia Eagles' quarterback Michael Vick.

But what if one team could do something to shake things up? A team that desperately needs something done in order to wake up a franchise that was known as one of the best NFL franchises through the mid-1990's. A franchise that's gone 16 years without a Super Bowl championship or even an appearance in the big game.

If you're following along so far you probably know the team I'm talking about. For those of you who are a little slow this morning, that's quite alright. We'll wait for you to get your morning coffee and wake up just a little bit more so you join the conversation.

I know Monday's suck but the sports world waits for no one.

Over the past aforementioned 16 years the Dallas Cowboys have gone through a drought that is never expected for a team owned by a free-spending owner such as Jerry Jones. In fact, that drought has brought them just a single playoff victory since their last Super Bowl title back in 1995.

When the brand new, $1.6 billion, Cowboys Stadium opened the expectations for this team were through the roof. Which isn't hard to imagine seeing as the state of the art stadium has a retractable roof not to mention the biggest television screen you'll ever see.

Jones expected his team to be Super Bowl champions again. In fact, he wanted his team to play in the biggest NFL game on the schedule, Super Bowl XLV, because it was going to take place in his stadium.

Instead his team flopped out of the gate losing seven of their first eight games before head coach Wade Phillips was fired and replaced by assistant coach and offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett, who became the new head coach officially after the season came to a close.

Needless to say, things to change in Dallas and they need to change quickly if they are going to be able to right the ship. Why not think outside of the box and bring in one of the most talked about college athletes coming in to this draft?

I talked to a source here in Dallas over the weekend who told me that the Cowboys are more likely to go after a safety, cornerback, and offensive lineman before they'll look at a quarterback.

While I respect their opinion I don't see how they can't look at the quarterback position. While some of the media out here will tell you that the Dallas Cowboys don't need that position, what they won't tell you is how well their current quarterback, Tony Romo, has worked out since he became the starter.

Sure he might be one of the best at his position during the regular season, they don't hand out regular season championship trophies. It's the reason Romo has faced so much criticism over the last few years. He hasn't lived up to the expectations of the team or the fans.

I'm not a Romo hater by any stretch of the imagination. Far be it for me to want to ship him out of town for some young, unproven, college quarterback.

But what if you did bring a guy like Newton in with your ninth pick in the draft? If you're Tony Romo and you see this young kid sitting behind you as the backup, wouldn't that make you want to play just a little bit harder? Maybe throw your passes a little straighter, make smarter decisions, and lead just a little bit more than you ever have before?

If it were me, I'd be completely threatened by a young, talented, quarterback who could take my job if I can't be the quarterback this franchise still believes I can become.

The team has the guy they want as their starter but behind him do they really have a guy they can count on to keep the team rolling along if their starter were to go down again?

They experienced this exact scenario this past season when Romo suffered a season ending injury. Although I respect the job that backup Jon Kitna did, do you really think the Cowboys believe he's the guy that, if the team were to be in the middle of a long winning streak, that he can keep them going at the high level of play they were experiencing with their starter?

While Jones, Garrett, and the rest of the coaching staff might stay with the party line and give an upbeat answer, the private conversations may sound a little less optimistic.

Having a guy like Cam Newton on the bench would make any team change up their defensive scheme because you don't know what he's capable of. He's a guy that can change a game all by himself and he showed as much with the defending national champion, Auburn Tigers.

No, college football isn't the same level of play as the NFL but it doesn't change my opinion. This is a good quarterback who I believe can make the Dallas Cowboys a better team. He's not going to come in and be the starter but it's a system that he can thrive in.

Sit him behind Romo, let him learn from the head coach and offensive coordinator, and see how much he grows.

You might disagree with my opinion and I'm just fine with that. I'm not going to say what you want to hear or give the party line opinions. Fans of this team want to celebrate a championship again but I wonder if the ownership is willing to do what needs to be done to light a fire under them.

Some moves might be unpopular but it doesn't mean they shouldn't be made. If Jerry Jones wants to hang the very first championship banner in his brand new stadium, it's time for him to stop making the same old draft picks and make one that's going to set them in a new direction.

I hate to steal the mantra of the Texas Rangers last season but I'm going to do it any way. If the Cowboys want to really be "America's Team" again then 'it's time' to do something to prove it.

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