The Cardinals hold the No. 1 overall pick for April’s NFL draft for the first time since 1958. As the day for the Cards to make their selection draws closer, azcardinals.com will take a look at the last 30 No. 1 overall selections and each player’s impact on the team and league.
NAME/YEAR: QB Cam Newton, 2011
TEAM: Carolina Panthers
THE SITUATION: The Panthers needed a QB and really, Newton made a lot of sense. Some were leery, because of what happened with JaMarcus Russell a few years before. Like Russell, Newton was only a one-year starter. The Panthers still made the call, amid an odd draft background where the NFL was in the middle of locking out its players, eventually wiping out all offseason work and creating a rush to fill rosters beyond draft picks at the end of July.
THE CAREER: Newton has been the anti-Russell. He has played well. He took the Panthers to a Super Bowl. He hasn’t been as consistently accurate as some had hoped he’d become, but his size and athleticism turned him in a dual threat, a tank of a runner who can scare defenses a couple of ways. His 2018 season wasn’t great as he tried to play through a bad shoulder that needed surgery this offseason.
THE OTHER OPTIONS IN TOP FIVE: Newton has been good, but the 2011 draft was top-heavy and crazy good. I mean, after Newton came Von Miller (Broncos), Marcell Dareus (Bills), A.J. Green (Bengals) and Patrick Peterson (Cardinals). All have had great careers.