Are we comfortable with Cam Newton being voted the 40th best player in the National Football League by his peers?
I think so.
If you're building a team from scratch, there's no way you go 40 deep before plucking this unusual behemoth of a quarterback. The Carolina Panthers had it right when they took him before any talent in the nation in the 2011 draft. With that in mind, NFL Network's "Top 100: Players of 2012" isn't about building a roster.
We said last month that Newton could land as high as No. 20, but we predicted No. 37. There's no real science to this list (and plenty of criticism around the results), but for a rookie quarterback to land in the same heat as Eli Manning (at No. 31) speaks volumes.
Newton can call himself a "bad teammate," but we've seen our share of those in Carolina. What Newton has produced is hope.
There was a strange moment in the office Tuesday: One of our editors, an admitted Carolina fan, was wandering the newsroom with a pet project. Carrying a Panthers greeting card, he was asking coworkers to predict the team's record next season (these are the pressing questions in this office). Guesses ranged from 6-10 to 11-5, but most predicted an improved season; many leaned toward a playoff berth. This is what Newton has done.
This is what franchise passers mean to their teams and cities. With that in mind, Newton could have gone higher without an argument from us, but the players seemed to find the right mix of "we're intrigued and impressed," and "don't let it go to your head."
If Newton keeps this up, we doubt it will take two Super Bowls to match Eli's No. 31 ranking. If there's a boundary line for Newton, we haven't seen it yet.