Give the Carolina Panthers credit: You couldn't blame them if they talked themselves out of drafting Cam Newton.
By the time we reached draft day last April, Newton's perceived pros and cons had been analyzed so thoroughly, there seemed to be an expert case both for and against the Auburn QB.
Of course, the Panthers did select Newton with the No. 1 overall pick, and he has rewarded their faith with perhaps the greatest rookie season an NFL player has ever had. Carolina owner Jerry Richardson is understandably thrilled with how it all worked out.
"As far as I'm concerned, he'll be the last quarterback we ever draft high in my lifetime," Richardson told Peter King last week. "He is a very unusual young man, and I say that in a highly complimentary way."
Richardson had Newton visit him at his home prior to the draft, asking the young QB direct questions about his ability to lead a franchise. The owner had a hunch Newton could pull it off, and it appears his foresight has paid off.
"He does not complain. Ever. He's never in the trainers room," Richardson said. "You watch him get hit out there and you think, 'He got to be hurting,' and then you see he's never with the trainers. The way he has adapted to our team and to the NFL has been tremendous. We couldn't be happier."
Is Newton getting the attention he deserves for such a magnificent debut? The passing seasons by Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady have certainly hogged the majority of the spotlight, but those quarterbacks are also veterans in the prime of their careers. Newton is a 22-year-old kid who might break every relevant rookie QB record ever without any semblance of an offseason training program.
We've seen the fortunes of NFL players change quickly, but Newton appears to be the real deal.