Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera spoke to reporters at the 2011 NFL Combine in Indianapolis on Thursday. The topic of conversation, to no one's surprise, was the 2011 NFL draft. The Panthers hold the top pick and there isn't a consensus on which way they're learning.
It's possible, though, that they're looking at quarterbacks, most likely QB Blaine Gabbert and QB Cam Newton. Rivera confirmed that they planned to bring Newton in for a private visit, and will likely do so with other top quarterbacks.
When the topic came around to Newton, Rivera had good things to say. Via Charlotte Observer:
"He's a tall, powerful young man. He's got great athletic ability. He might be the better athlete of all of them (current QB prospects). But again, the one thing he does have is he's got a great arm. And he's a winner. You go back to his junior college and his college days, you can't pass that up, either. We've got to explore. There's eight, 9, 10 guys that we're looking at. We're going to explore all avenues with everybody."
There's no reason for the owner of the No. 1 pick to be bluffing anyone so I'd assume most of his praise is genuine. The Panthers are likely talking themselves into Newton -- whether they're successful or not remains to be seen -- because if you don't have a franchise quarterback, that's the first move you should make.