In 2006, the Titans had a high draft pick and took an electric quarterback with a big arm, fantastic mobility and tremendous athleticism who had just won a national championship.
The Vince Young project is over, however.
The Titans sit at No. 8 in the April draft. Would they consider selecting an electric quarterback with a big arm, fantastic mobility and tremendous athleticism who has just won a national championship?
How does Auburn's Cam Newton compare to the 2006 version of Young, who starred at Texas?
I asked an AFC scout (who will remain anonymous), Scouts Inc.'s Ken Moll and Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com for their thoughts.
Interesting stuff, I hope you'll agree ...
“Cam is a one-year player at a major college level ... Cam is tougher both physically and mentally than VY. Both are similar with the retention and fast processing of information, [but] it will be a struggle for Cam as well. VY was a much better game manager -- he made others around him better. Cam is a one-read and run player. VY would scramble, look downfield to make a throw and run as a last resort.
"Both are half-field read QBs; they both struggle to scan the field. Cam is stronger in the pocket, has ability to scramble and avoid and make throws under pressure. He will have to learn patience in the NFL. That is not something the Titans had to worry about with VY -- he was patient. Cam needs to go to a team that will develop him, that is imperative. The questions I can’t answer right now are: How much he loves the game and is he willing to work at it? We know what the Titans came to believe about how VY felt about the extra work.
“They are very similar players overall, based on height-weight-speed and success on college level. Both have that 'me' attitude and personality. Cam can separate himself as a quarterback if he is willing to work at his craft, but so far he is a run-and-hide-from issues type person and has made a number of questionable decisions in his short college career. That should be a huge red flag."
The Scouts Inc. expert said his focus has been on the pro side, so he hasn’t seen much on Newton, but he offered these thoughts on 2010's Newton vs. 2006's Young:
“From a distance, I would say the Titans wouldn’t go down the same path as they did with Vince Young. Cam is similar, but Vince was a more accomplished passer, not as strong [physically] but maybe a more explosive runner.
“I would say Vince was more accurate. Similar arm strength but different throwing motions. Both are excellent at improvising. Really not sure about work ethic and commitment [until Newton gets to the next level]. Both players need to learn NFL coverages, reads and schemes [neither was in a 'pro-style' offense in college].
“I just don’t see Cam being looked at in the same way -- as an early first-round draft choice -- as Vince.”
"Newton and Young's accuracy is remarkably similar leaving college. Both are inconsistent at the short and intermediate levels, though can make every NFL throw. Each is an above-average, deep-ball passer.
"Each has standout arm strength. Both can sling the ball through tight spaces, beat closing cornerbacks to the sideline on the deep out and easily flick the ball 50-plus yards downfield without winding up.
"While both quarterbacks are obviously quite mobile, Newton's greater bulk and strength makes him a more dangerous runner, as he'll be more effective in short-yardage situations. Both can elude defenders in tight quarters. Young may have greater timed speed. Newton isn't likely to run quite as fast, but his speed translates well onto the field. He possesses rare acceleration to split holes and run away from defenders.
"Understanding coverages remains a work in progress for each. Both demonstrate the ability to read defenses when given time in the pocket, especially when taking their snaps out of the shotgun. When dropping back from center, however, the quarterbacks too often rely on their natural instincts to run rather than locate their checkdown options when their primary reads are covered.
"On work ethic and commitment, hindsight is 20/20 with Young for this grade, but there were red flags about his dedication coming out of Texas. There was a belief among many scouts that he'd been coddled while in Austin and might struggle handling the tough conversion to the NFL. While the questions are different, there remain significant character red flags with Newton, as well.
"Young showed great poise with his stirring play in the Rose Bowl victory over USC. Newton proved the same ability in some of Auburn's biggest games, including their comeback in the Iron Bowl against Alabama, but was uncharacteristically turnover prone in the BCS Championship game. Newton's poise off the field, however, amid the scrutiny of the NCAA's investigation into his recruitment at Mississippi State, serves as ample evidence of his mental strength. Scouts rave about Newton's leadership.
"The smarts question won't truly be answered until teams get an opportunity to interview Newton at the [draft] combine. Young's Wonderlic struggles were well documented. Some believe Newton could have similar troubles. More important to his success in the NFL, he's shown moderate improvement in his ability to take an offensive game plan from the whiteboard to the field. Newton will be grilled by teams during pre-draft interviews on his potential to do the same.
"I believe Young's physical abilities warranted his being the third pick of the draft and could have led to personal and team success in the NFL. The gamble failed when Young was unable to handle the mental and leadership responsibilities. There is evidence that Newton is better suited to make this transition. He'll need to prove more, however, during interviews to warrant the risk of the Titans making the same mistake twice."
There are differences between Young when he was coming out and Newton now, for sure. But the two are too similar for me to say it’s the direction the Titans should go.
Fact is, there might not be a quarterback worthy of the No. 8 overall selection for them. Missouri's Blaine Gabbert likely will be taken before then, Arkansas' Ryan Mallet has off-field concerns surfacing and Washington's Jake Locker’s accuracy is a big question.
We don’t know if the labor situation will allow the Titans to secure a veteran quarterback before the draft. But maybe the second round is going to be the best place to find the young quarterback to develop.