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Newton shows form, for what it's worth

INDIANAPOLIS - Auburn quarterback Cam Newton showed off his fluid throwing motion and tight spirals - not all of which were on target - during the NFL Scouting Combine workouts Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Newton has a classic over-the-top motion and a consistent release point on his throws. He hit 11 of 21 passes after helping out receivers on across-the-field routes.

The significance of the workout? Pretty minimal. The combine throw-and-catch session is football in shorts, which is to say it's far from the real thing.

Newton was two-for-three on deep post-corner routes, his best throws of the day. The post-corner routes were the last passes of the workout. He took a little off his first throw to get a completion and was a little long with throw number two. No. 3 was perfect
His most consistent throws were the 17-yard ``turn-ins’’ to his left and 12-yard ``turn ins’’ to his right, completing five of six of those throws.

Florida State's Christian Ponder had a pretty good session, connecting on most of his throws. Iowa's Ricky Stanzi struggled big-time with his accuracy, missing receivers high, low and wide. Virginia Tech's Tyrod Taylor completed almost all of his passes, but he took a tad off the throws, enabling for more completions.

In the morning session, Arakansas' Ryan Mallett showed the strongest arm and was excellent on his deep-ball accuracy. Washington's Jake Locker had a decent showing. Nevada's Colin Kaepernick showed inconsistency on his deep throws.

---Mark Gaughan

Gailey on Spiller

INDIANAPOLIS -- For the record, if you haven't seen it, here were the comments of Bills coach Chan Gailey on running back C.J. Spiller. I didn't fit them into my story in Friday's paper. They just expand on what Gailey previously had said about the 2010 top pick:

On Spiller's rookie year: "It didn’t work out like everybody planned. He planned, I planned, any fan out there planned. It didn’t work out like any of us planned. I still think he’s going to be a very good to great player for the Buffalo Bills. There’s no question in my mind about that. I think I'll do a better job this year of creating ways to use him more. When you are establishing what you’re trying to get done offensively, you have a hard time deviating too much to do things for one guy to create things for one guy, because we were in the process of evaluating everybody and tyring to create things for everybody on our offense. Because it was just the getting to know you year. So I think I'll do a better job next year of incorporating him and I think he’s got to get better at ball security and pass protection. Those are the two areas he’s got to get better at. I’m not telling you anything we haven’t told him."

Did the season change his thinking about taking a running back in the top 10? "No it doesn’t. The issue is the situation C.J. found himself in and we were in. He’s still a great player. He’s still a great young man. He’s going to be very productive in this league for a long time. Just because it didn’t work out that wasn’t his fault. I don’t think it was the processes fault of who to draft. I think it was more a product of the situation. If we had been in the third year and taken him, I don’t think it would have had the same results. I think there are a lot of factors. We put the expectations on the 'ones,' everybody in the football kingdom puts expectations on the 'ones.' That’s what we do."

---Mark Gaughan

Newton says he's eager to play anywhere

INDIANAPOLIS -- Auburn quarterback Cam Newton said Saturday he's not worried about which team selects him in the NFL Draft.

"I’m just going to go into wherever organization that I’m picked up, I’m going to be lucky," Newton said before a throng of a couple hundred media members during his NFL Scouting Combine interview at Lucas Oil Stadium. "I’m going to be happy because this is a dream I’ve always envisioned myself doing."

Asked specifically about how he would feel about going at No. 3 in the draft to Buffalo or even higher, Newton said: "I’m not focused on that right now. My focus is to try to become the best player I can and on meetings I have here at the combine. I’m going to try to make lasting impressions on these offensive coordinators and these different organizations that will be the deciding factor in picking."

Newton made headlines earlier this week by saying he sees himself as an entertainer and an icon. He made an effort to head off focus on that by making an opening statement in which he said: "The recent comments were made during the announcement of my new endorsement partnership. I was making the point that I want to be the best possible ambassador for them just like I want to be the best possible ambassador for whatever team I am lucky enough to play for. I’m excited to compete this week and you will see me doing everything possible to become the best player that I can possibly be."

Why the need for an opening statement? "I felt it was somewhat misunderstood. It was partly my mistake of not making myself clear and that was my fault," he said.

---Mark Gaughan

Bowers aware of Buffalo weather

INDIANAPOLIS - Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers might wind up being the first pick in the NFL Draft. Or the second. Or even the third. But there has been no recruiting effort started yet on the part of his former teammate, Bills running back C.J. Spiller.

Asked today if Spiller has talked to him about the possibility of coming to Buffalo, Bowers said: "I haven't talked to C.J. about Buffalo. All he mentions is it's very, very cold."

---Mark Gaughan

Polian transitioning

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Colts executive Bill Polian is continuing his transition - a slow transition - away from the No. 1 decision-making role in his organization. Polian has assumed a new title, going from president to vice chairman, the Indianapolis Star reported today. Polian has been grooming his son Chris to take over for him. Chris Polian became vice president and general manager of the Colts in December 2009. Bill Polian has a home in Charlotte, N.C., and will spend a bit more time there now that he has a new title. But Colts owner Jim Irsay told the Star that the new title won't be a significant change and that the elder Polian, 68, still will play a major role in the team's decision-making. Irsay said he envisions Bill Polian receding into a consultant's role in two to three years.

---Mark Gaughan

Shades of Pat Williams

INDIANAPOLIS -- University of Alabama defensive end Marcell Dareus held his news conference with the media today at the NFL Scouting Combine and struck an impressive form.

Dareus measured in at 6-foot-3 1/2 and 319 pounds. He is built like a tree trunk. His body is reminscent of that of former Bills and current Vikings star Pat Williams, who goes about 340. Dareus doesn't have Big Pat's paunch but his body is thick from head to toe. Impressive. Dareus, of course, has a lot more talent coming out of college than Williams. Dareus figures to be a top-five pick in the NFL Draft.

"At ‘Bama we played a little four-man, three-man, we did a lot of rotating," Dareus said. "I think I’ll adapt to it (the NFL) pretty well. I’ve played 3-tech, defensive end, nose, a little bit of everything."

---Mark Gaughan

Nix not a big trade-down guy

INDIANAPOLIS -- Bills General Manager Buddy Nix said he will consider any and all offers for trades with the No. 3 pick in the NFL Draft. However, chances are the Bills will have someone they really like at No. 3. Nix and the Bills did not do a lot of trading in the 1990s during the John Butler regime. There were some trades (notably the Eli Manning deal), but not a lot, during Nix's tenure in San Diego.

Asked if the Bills would shop the No. 3 pick, Nix said: "I wouldn’t ever say we wouldn’t do it. But I never have been one to do a lot of that. We just never have. I don’t like giving up a player, especially if you’re sold on one. If the guys you think merit at 3 are gone, then I think you’ve got to look at moving back. We need as many picks as we can get, in fact they ought to give us two in every round."

"If there’s a guy that you are dead set on getting, you better take him and not move down and think you can get him at No. 7. Because you might not and then you don’t have the player. If there’s a guy we’re dead set on we’re gonna take him."

---Mark Gaughan


Carolina in QB derby?

INDIANAPOLIS - The Carolina Panthers have a new head coach, own the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft and look like they are in the market for a quarterback in the draft.

Ron Rivera, new Carolina coach, told the media on Thursday he's looking for a quarterback.

"We need to identify a franchise quarterback, most certainly," Rivera said. "It's going to come down to who we believe is going to help us the most, regardless of position."

Carolina drafted quarterback Jimmy Clausen in the second round of last year's draft, with the 48th overall pick. Clausen was the NFL's lowest-rated QB last season, not a surprise for a rookie on the league's worst team. But Rivera sure did not sound like he was factoring Clausen into his franchise QB search.

Carolina's division, the NFC South, includes three star quarterbacks - New Orleans' Drew Brees, Atlanta's Matt Ryan and Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman. "Look at all three of those teams and they all three have franchise-style quarterbacks," Rivera said. "I think … we have to identify that and come up with our own."

Rivera was hired from San Diego, where he served as defensive coordiantor for the Chargers. 

"I come from a place, having been in San Diego, you've got Philip Rivers, a tremendous quarterback, and we've got to find a situation like that again," Rivera said.

Carolina has a ton of needs. Defensive tackle is one of their biggest, and Auburn DT Nick Fairley is one of the top five players in the draft. Rivera made it clear the Panthers will consider numerous positions with the top pick.

Nevertheless: It's no slam dunk that Auburn's Cam Newton will be on the draft board when the Bills make the third overall pick on April 28.

---Mark Gaughan



Audio: Nix on Newton, other options

INDIANAPOLIS -- Buffalo Bills General Manager Buddy Nix spoke with a small group of reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine about what the team might do at the No. 3 spot. Though he talked at length about the prospect of drafting a quarterback, he stressed there are other options. Here's audio from that conversation, broken into two parts:

Part One:

Part Two:

--Mark Gaughan

Buddy Nix talks QB

INDIANAPOLIS - Buffalo Bills General Manager Buddy Nix talked at length Thursday about the prospect of drafting a quarterback with the third pick in the NFL Draft but also stressed there are other options for his team in the first round.

Will it be hard to pass up a franchise quarterback at No. 3, Nix was asked? "It wouldn’t be hard if we thought somebody else was better, but we haven’t made that decision and in the next two months we will," Nix said at the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Nix said his definition of a franchise quarterback was: "A guy who can win for you for years. That to me is what it is. You get a lot of guys that’ll play good for you a year or two, but its somebody that can be a 10-year guy where you don’t have to worry about that postion any more."

"We really like Ryan Fitzpatrick," Nix said. "He’s tough, he’s smart, he’s proved he can win for us. We’re not in a position where we’ve got to have a quarterback. There’s people in the draft that do have to have one. There is some areas – and I’ll be honest with you – that we’re looking at very strong that’s not quarterback."

Conversely, however, Nix said: "If you wait ‘till you absolutely don’t have a quarterback, normally somebody else will be in the front office making the decision to draft one."

The Bills will look hard at Auburn University quarterback Cam Newton, the Heisman Trophy winner.

Nix on Newton's strengths: "Athletic ability, size. He’s got a strong arm. He throws better than people think he does and obviously he can beat you running.

On Newton's throwing mechanics: "I think they’re good. But see I don’t put a lot of stock in that. A lot of people do. I saw Doug Flutie throw it underhanded. So I don’t know why it matters if you get it there. The best thing is getting it out on time and hitting what you aim at."

Newton made news this week by saying he saw himself as an entertainer. "You never know how that was said," Nix said. "You’d have to hear it to know. It doesn’t bother me. If you like him … It’s kind of like scouting. You can make excuses for him if you like him, and if you like him you can say he’s really confident.”

Nix coached at Auburn for five years, from 1976 to 1980. He was asked if his connections there would ensure he'd get a good read on the top Auburn prospects. "Absolutely. Nick Farley and Cam, we’ll know as much about them as you can possibly know. His (Newton's) landlady ran the dorm when I was there. I’ve got kin folks there that better not tell me a story."

---Mark Gaughan

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