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QB or not QB? Bengals' Lewis mum despite praise for Newton

After watching Cam Newton's private workout in Alabama, Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis believes the Auburn star has what it takes to be a franchise quarterback, the team's official website reported Wednesday.

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"He's a real fine NFL prospect," said Lewis, who attended Newton's pro day last month. "He's got a great, great personality. Magnetic."

Lewis dismissed the scrutiny that Newton has received about his personality, saying the Heisman Trophy winner has the "it" factor that teams seek.

"He's got it. Whoever said that wished they had it," Lewis said. "It's really important when you're talking about evaluating the quarterback position that they have that. That they're that kind of guy. You've got be a guy that is stand-up, ready to take control kind of guy. Whether you're talking about the football team, whether you're talking about the city. Talking about a lot of stuff. The good thing is that all these kids this year have been that.

"In Cam's case, he's been 'it' three times. He went to Gainesville that way with that kind of fanfare. He went to Blinn Junior College, where he had to slink down as low as he could go. He came out of it that way and went to Auburn that way. Now he comes into the NFL. He's kind of had that 'it,' been that kind of guy for awhile."

Lewis said he admires Newton's perseverance through all the ups and downs, including the media circus over allegations that his father requested money in return for a commitment to Mississippi State.

"He's gone through some adversity that's been created around him," Lewis said. "Some self-inflicted at times. Probably some inflicted by the environment around him at times. Some made up, probably. But whatever it is, he's been successful. He shoulders responsibilities, and he's done well with it."

With Carson Palmer demanding a trade and the NFL's free-agency situation on hold during the lockout, the Bengals could use one of their eight draft picks -- including the fourth overall -- on a quarterback. But whomever the team picks in this month's NFL draft must be ready to play from the get-go, Lewis said.

"We're eventually going to complete this team with other players," he said. "So let's get the greatest young prospects that are going to play for a long period of time and, hopefully, at a very, very high level. It's important to be careful. Anybody we put our chip on, we're expecting him to come in here and go."

NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora reported that the team worked out Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett in late March. But Lewis wouldn't commit Wednesday when asked if the team's first-round pick would be a quarterback.

"I'll tell you three weeks from Saturday," Lewis responded.

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