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Draft buzz: Newton's character no longer appears to be issue

There seems to be a lot more positive chatter recently regarding Auburn quarterback Cam Newton. I've spoken to several personnel evaluators and coaches who believe Newton has weathered questions about his character and now teams are paying much more attention to the football player and his potential.

"I think a lot of people are starting to realize that Cam Newton is a pretty good player and has some things that not a lot of other people do," one general manager told me.

Rivera on pre-draft evaluations

The Panthers have major holes to fill on both sides of the ball, so which way is the team leaning with the first pick? Coach Ron Rivera discussed the situation Tuesday. **More ...**

Newton has upcoming workouts scheduled with Miami, Cincinnati, Washington, Tennessee, Cleveland, Minnesota and Denver.

Carolina, which has the top pick, is doing its due diligence on Newton and Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, considered by most to be the more pro-ready quarterback of the two.

Someone close to Newton posed this question to me recently: If Newton played for Missouri and Gabbert played for Auburn, would Auburn have won a BCS title? Would Missouri have been better?

It's a good question that I wonder if those evaluating the Auburn product have asked themselves. Not sure there's a good answer.

There is growing speculation -- outside of the Panthers' organization -- that Carolina will use the first overall pick on one of the two. That's because they need a quarterback and aren't sold on other options available in free agency, whenever that is, and possibly available in trade, according to sources.

Fallout from Green's pro day

Georgia's A.J. Green might not have generated as many postseason raves as Alabama's Julio Jones, but from folks I've spoken with, he's still perceived as the better receiving prospect.

The more intriguing aspect of this conversation is that although both players could be top-10 picks, there are still a lot of general managers who wonder about using high choices on wide receivers, whose immediate impact is typically marginal. And when teams use a top pick on a player, especially at a skill position, they want him to register immediately.

Last season, Demaryius Thomas and Dez Bryant were the only receivers drafted in the first round (22nd and 24th, respectively) and both were marred by injuries throughout their rookie seasons. Even more, there are still as many questions regarding their potential effectiveness now as when they were headed into the draft.

But back to Green. The fact that several dozen scouts and other team officials had to leave the field Tuesday at Georgia's pro day and watch the proceedings on monitors inside the athletic building because the quarterback (Justin Roper) throwing to Green was ineligible, is raising eyebrows.

While nobody seemed outwardly bothered, I had more than one person who was there tell me they were surprised that someone -- Georgia's football staff, the teams most interested in seeing Green, or Green's agents -- didn't confirm that the quarterback was eligible. Even before lockout rules prohibited NFL free agents and current players from participating in drills, it apparently is pretty common for teams to find out who is throwing to receivers or who is catching balls from a quarterback.

From what I was told, Roper was believed to have been cleared by the NFL. Then problems surfaced Tuesday morning, shortly before the start of the workout. Green's draft status won't be impacted, but not having coaches get a bird's eye view could hurt a player like wide receiver Kris Durham, a likely draft prospect who didn't receive an invitation to the Scouting Combine and hasn't gotten to show much outside of running drills.

Something else some of the scouts brought up was the scheduling of the pro day. It coincided with the NFL Annual Meeting being held in New Orleans, thus, no head coaches could attend because of previous obligations.

Concerns over Bowers' knee persist

Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers has a small chance to redirect Carolina's views toward him if he has a big pro day, but there are lingering concerns about his knee injury. Bowers declared himself "100 percent" at the combine last month, but he delayed his pro day from March 10 to April 1, leading to speculation that he was at less than full strength.

On Thursday, Bowers' agent, Joe Flanagan, issued a statement to address "inaccurate reports" about Bowers' medical status.

Look for Bowers' April 1 workout to go a long way in determining where he is selected. Bowers is laying low, not doing any interviews and training in relative secrecy because he knows how important the workout will be for his draft stock.

With so much misinformation being cast right now, it's tough to buy into some of what's being said. Soon, Bowers can either quiet the speculation and get into the discussion of the top overall pick ... or watch his stock drop.

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