NFL

2011 NFL Draft Prospect: Cam Newton

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Cam Newton is largely regarded as one of the top two quarterbacks in this year's draft along with Blaine Gabbert of Missouri. There are detractors who may like Colin Kaepernick, Jake Locker, Ryan Mallett or Christian Ponder as this year's top quarterback prospect, but the general consensus has seemed to settle on Newton being one of this year's top two passers. He's considered a candidate for the top overall pick and many consider him a lock for the top ten. Questions remained following the Combine, though, particularly whether Newton possessed the accuracy and pocket presence to succeed as a starting quarterback in the NFL; two very important attributes to warrant such a high selection.

His pro day was supposed to answer a lot of those questions as Newton would be throwing to receivers with whom he is familiar on a field on which he has seen success. His time finally came Tuesday afternoon as he began his quarterback drills by rolling out to his left and right. He started well and finished his drills with eleven incomplete passes including five dropped passes on 53 attempts.

A few of his passes were high and a few off target, but overall Newton looked better in his pro day than he did at the Combine and was accurate on most of his passes. What can we take from it, though? Does this mean that Newton will be the first overall pick of the Carolina Panthers come April 28 because he looked good in his pro day? Not quite and I'm having trouble believing the Panthers would take any of this year's crop of passers with the first pick no matter how badly they desire to bring in a quarterback of the future.

There will always be those who place too much importance on quarterback workouts at the Combine and at pro days when players are not wearing pads and are not facing a pass rush. Newton's game film looks good and he's a better passer than many gave him credit for coming out of Auburn. While he's a gifted passer, though, he did not demonstrate that he can be an effective pocket passer on the field and any team considering drafting him should consider that before using a top ten pick on him. Pocket presence is important in the NFL no matter how well you can move the ball with your legs and he hasn't shown that ability at game speed with a pass rush around him.

When the draft process commenced following the conclusion of the college season, most would have looked at you funny if you suggested Newton would be taken first overall. He's obviously a good passer and was a winner in his lone collegiate season at the FBS level, but he didn't show enough as far as pocket presence to earn the first overall selection. Is he a first rounder? Absolutely. It's just difficult to warrant spending first pick money on a player with questions regarding his ability to play the position in the pocket. Teams will continue to reach for quarterbacks hoping to strike gold and find their franchise passer, but Newton's value seems best somewhere between the Minnesota Vikings with the 12th overall pick and the Seattle Seahawks at #25.

Danny Hobrock, a sports journalist covering NCAA Football and MLB is the editor of our college football content. His work for Xtra Point Football has garnered national attention and is critically acclaimed. You may email Danny directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ DannyHobrock

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