SCOTTSDALE AZ - JANUARY 07: Quarterback Cam Newton #2 of the Auburn Tigers talks with the media during Media Day for the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at the JW Marriott Camelback Inn on January 7 2011 in Scottsdale Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

2011 NFL Draft: Cam Newton Leaving Auburn To Begin Professional Career

Cam Newton announced he will forgo his senior year at Auburn and declare for the 2011 NFL Draft on Thursday, as expected.

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Cam Newton Declares For The 2011 NFL Draft, But Will His Skills Translate To The Pros?

In the shocker of all shockers, Auburn quarterback Cam Newton declared for the 2011 NFL Draft, opting to forgo his senior year. After winning the Heisman and National Championship with the Tigers in 2010, his draft stock wasn't going to get any higher with another year. Besides, why should he play for free when he could be making good money doing it?

Now that he's in, experts are scrambling to figure out where Newton will go and if he can be successful in the NFL. After all, Newton is leaving plenty to the imagination, only giving scouts one year of his play against high-level competition to evaluate. Even though we've seen plenty of Newton in 2010, his draft stock remains a mystery as scouts struggle to weight the risk and reward of investing a significant amount of money in him.

While it's virtually guaranteed a team will spend a first round pick on Newton, it's unknown whether he'll flourish or fail at the next level. In 2010, he completed 66 percent of his passes, but was rarely in a position to throw 30 or 40 passes in a game. At Auburn, he was able to freelance, using his legs first, then his arm, to beat the defense.

His 20 completions in the BCS Championship were a career-high, but wouldn't even be a blip on the radar for many NFL quarterbacks. With NFL defenses possessing the speed and size to contain his running, can Newton rely on his arm at the next level?

His physical skills are too tantalizing, but picking Newton early in the first round comes with significant risk. In the end, the impression he made in 2011 will stick, and a team will fall in love with him, likely inside the top-10. Even still, he's far from a guarantee, and it's going to take time for Newton to develop into an NFL passer.

As we've seen time and again, players can get away with being the best athlete on the field at the college level, but see that distinct advantage disappear in the NFL. Whether Newton can learn how to make all the throws, and use his arm as a primary weapon, will determine if he becomes a star in the NFL or another bust that had the tools, but couldn't survive in the league.

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2011 NFL Mock Draft: Cam Newton Predictions Are All Over The Place

SB Nation's Mocking The Draft called Auburn QB Cam Newton the most polarizing player in the 2011 NFL draft and, after looking at a few 2011 NFL mock drafts, it appears they may be right. A scan of various NFL mock drafts shows Newton going anywhere from No. 7 to the San Francisco 49ers to No. 16 to the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Here is Mocking The Draft's Cam Newton scouting report and here's a roundup of mock drafts and where they have Newton going.

SB Nation (No. 12 Vikings): Let's just say that we actually believe Brett Favre this time around. Minnesota is going to be in the market for a franchise quarterback, and they won't be afraid to gamble a little on a high-upside player like the Heisman Trophy winner.

CBS Sports Rob Rang (No. 8 Titans): Titans' owner Bud Adams might be able to have his cake and eat it too. In retaining head coach Jeff Fisher, he correctly chose the leader of his team. With the playmaking Newton still on the board, however, he can get a Vince Young clone.

CBS Sports Chad Reuter (No. 12 Vikings): Unless the Vikings think Joe Webb could be their future starter, bringing in another big-armed, athletic quarterback to sling the ball to Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin could help them contend in 2011.

FanHouse (No. 7 49ers): Alex Smith isn't coming back, Troy Smith isn't good enough and the next coach of the Niners can't build anything without a quarterback. Newton isn't a sure thing, but he's too tempting to pass up at this point. 

Draft Tek (No. 16 Jaguars): It's time -- Garrard has been an average QB at best, up one year and down the next, but should be able to start for another year or two. The Jags target the most athletic QB in this year's draft to groom as the heir-apparent -- and he inherits an offense rich in talent in the OL, at RB and improving at WR. Yes, the Jags still need a pass-rush from the DE position, but will not draft that position in the 1st round for two reasons: 1) their lack of success in drafting DE's over the past few drafts, and 2) the chance at a franchise QB.

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Cam Newton Will Be Most Polarizing Player In 2011 NFL Draft

The 2011 NFL draft is still a few months away but we can already tell who will be one of the most discussed players this year -- Auburn QB Cam Newton. He declared for the NFL draft on Thursday and already the talk on him is clearly divided. SB Nation's Mocking The Draft calls him the most polarizing player in April's draft.

Newton is a rare talent. With his size, athleticism and arm strength, Newton has more potential than any player in this year's draft. That alone will get him picked in the first round. He also displays great leadership skills that are impossible to teach. In only one year at Auburn, the Tigers rallied around Newton and he led them to a national title.

That's the part people like -- he was able to generate excitement and wins. Not all players can do that and when you're a team, you're also a business hoping to strike some excitement into your team. Newton can help with that.

But his negatives may scare some teams off completely. Newton will have to greatly refine all of his mechanical flaws if he wants to succeed in the pros. His field vision and pocket poise are average, at best. Then there are the questions about his character - fair or not. He's had multiple off-field issues and has bounced around from Florida to Blinn Junior College to Auburn.     

This will most certainly scare quite a few teams away considering the money you invest into a player at the top of the draft. But, as they say, it only takes one team. If one team likes him early in the draft then that's all that matters. As Mocking The Draft, Newton has plenty of questions to answer this offseason which may help determine whether he's a top 10 pick or a first round pick at all.

Check out Mocking The Draft for the full Cam Newton scouting report.

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2011 NFL Draft: Cam Newton Leaving Auburn To Begin Professional Career

As expected by everyone on earth, Auburn Tigers QB Cam Newton has announced he’ll forego his senior season to enter the 2011 NFL Draft. Newton is expected to be a first-round pick, though draft heads aren’t quite sure whether to put him in the top-five or the bottom half of the first.

Newton:

This decision was difficult for me and my family. After talking to Coach Chizik and Coach Malzahn, I think it is best that I make that next step in my career and forgo my senior season and enter the NFL Draft. It was a very hard decision for me, especially after coming off the great season we had at Auburn.

The former JUCO star and Atlanta native led Auburn to the 2011 BCS National Championship Game and the school’s first national title in over half a century, winning the Heisman Trophy and just about every other award a quarterback can win.

This year’s draft is even more of a seller’s market for a quarterback like Newton than it was a couple weeks ago, with presumed No. 1 pick Andrew Luck committing to Stanford for another year.

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2011 NFL Draft: Cam Newton Is Going To Go Pro, Isn't He?

Mocking The Draft's first 2011 NFL mock draft since the conclusion of the regular season has Auburn Tigers QB Cam Newton going No. 12 to the Minnesota Vikings. That would mean the Vikes replacing the NFL's most headline-grabby quarterback with his collegiate counterpart, but hang on a minute. Newton is a junior, and hasn't officially declared for the NFL Draft. But he's going to, right?

We know this much: with one game left to play, the BCS National Championship against the Oregon Ducks on Jan. 10, Newton won't be announcing his decision this week. But expect him to declare for the draft shortly after.

While Stanford Cardinal QB Andrew Luck has a number of reasons to consider staying, it's hard to say how Newton could better his situation by returning for his senior year. While at least one former NFL scout doesn't think Newton is a first-round pick, last year Tim Tebow proved the worth of the all-you-need-is-one-team adage, and Newton's skills on the field are even more enticing than Tebow's were.

For one, Luck's family doesn't need money. Unlike Luck, Newton has at least one parent who has already tried to make money off of the younger Newton's playing career. While holding out on signing a pro contract in order to deprive Cecil Newton would be one of the greatest trollson maneuvers ever, it's probably not worth it.

Newton also has to consider the future of Auburn's football program in light of his recruitment scandal. While Newton is in the clear, that doesn't necessarily mean Auburn is. And what would happen if offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn were to take a head coaching job?

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