Schefter predicts that the Panthers will take Newton

Auburn Tigers’ quarterback Cam Newton (R) throws a pass as teammate Mike Berry (C) blocks Oregon Ducks’ Brandon Bair (L) in the second quarter in the NCAA BCS National Championship college football game in Glendale, Arizona, January 10, 2011. REUTERS/Matt Sullivan (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

After leaning towards Blaine Gabbert last week, ESPN’s Adam Schefter now predicts that the Panthers will select Auburn quarterback Cam Newton with the No. 1 overall pick.

“Last week, I sensed Blaine Gabbert,” Schefter said in an ESPN Insider Q&A. “This week, I’m more on the Cam Newton bandwagon. The more I hear, the more it sounds like Newton is the player to beat for the No. 1 pick.”

Schefter goes on to say that the Panthers “need to create buzz to sell some tickets,” which of course is the best reason to draft a player. I mean, if you’re going to invest that much money in a prospect then he better be able to put butts in the seats. Football skills be damned.

Schefter isn’t a draft guru but I’m convinced he has a wiretap on every GM, head coach and player in the league so his words aren’t to be taken lightly. Still, he’s only making a prediction and not reporting anything, so Gabbert and even LSU’s Patrick Peterson are in the mix for the No. 1 overall pick.

That said, I had the Panthers taking Newton in my last mock and if I were to update it today, I would still have the former Auburn QB going No. 1. Carolina doesn’t seem enamored with any of the top defensive linemen and as good as Peterson is, a cornerback has never gone No. 1 or even No. 2. I don’t see Peterson making history this year and if the Panther are down to Newton or Gabbert, I think they’ll take the boom or bust player and pin their future on the former Tiger. (What? Newton and Gabbert are both former Tigers? Well that works out well for that last sentence now doesn’t it?)

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