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Volume 24 No. 137
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NFL Franchise Notes: Panthers Bet Their Future On Cam Newton With No. 1 Pick

In Charlotte, Joseph Person notes the Panthers selected Auburn QB Cam Newton with the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft Thursday "in the hopes he will be the franchise quarterback they have long lacked." The choice of Newton "drew cheers from about 10,000 fans at a party at Bank of America Stadium, where they gathered to see what the Panthers would do when they exercised the No.1 pick for the first time in franchise history" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/29). ESPN's Chris Berman just prior to the Panthers selected Newton said, "They're going to sell some tickets." ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. added, "They need some juice. ... This has got to be a home run. We've said all along, they cannot misfire here" ("2011 NFL Draft," ESPN, 4/28). In Charlotte, Scott Fowler writes the Panthers "took possibly the biggest risk in franchise history by drafting Newton, hoping that he will lead them to big rewards as he did for Auburn in college" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/29). Also in Charlotte, Tom Sorensen writes, "If Newton flops, the Panthers flop. The pick will become part of their bottom-feeder lore. ... But who goes into a draft cowering and covering up and trying not to get burned? You can't worry about bad public relations" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 4/29).

FUTURE OF THE FRANCHISE: In Denver, Mark Kiszla notes the Broncos selected Texas A&M LB Von Miller with the No. 2 pick in the Draft, taking a "sledgehammer to the extreme arrogance that characterized the much-lamented Josh McDaniels era." Miller supplants Broncos QB Tim Tebow "as the No. 1 reason to believe in the future of this franchise." It is "another sign" that Broncos Exec VP/Football Operations John Elway is a "football executive who believes more in substance than glitz" (DENVER POST, 4/29).

STAYING OUT OF THE WAY: In Nashville, David Climer writes five years after Titans Owner Bud Adams "uttered the immortal words 'V.Y. is my guy' and the Titans drafted Vince Young with the third pick of the '06 draft, there is no indication that the owner exercised any undue influence" on the decision to select Washington QB Jake Locker with the No. 8 pick in the Draft. Adams "clearly acquiesced to the recommendations of his front office brain trust." Titans GM Mike Reinfeldt: "We spent probably an hour or an hour-and-a-half talking to him, talking about the guys that we thought would be there -- the top three or four people" (Nashville TENNESSEAN, 4/29).

PLAYING IT SAFE: In Miami, Greg Cote writes the Dolphins, "desperate for a draft home run, a big spark, had a chance to go bold," but instead they "went bland" in choosing Florida C Mike Pouncey with the No. 15 pick in the Draft. Cote: "This isn't meant as a direct knock on Mike Pouncey. ... He's fine. Nice player. He was seen as the best in the draft at his position, and he fills a need for Miami." But it "did not feel like the first-round pick of a 7-9 team a decade past its last playoff win, a team starving for impact players" (MIAMI HERALD, 4/29). In West Palm Beach, Dave George writes Pouncey is the "epitome of a safe pick." George: "I'm not down on the kid, just disappointed that the Dolphins continue to rebuild brick by sturdy brick, the old-fashioned way, the patient way, when all of South Florida is fed up with being an AFC East also-ran" (PALM BEACH POST, 4/29).