Cam Newton, QB, Auburn Tigers
40-Time: (NFL Scouting Combine Time Feb. 23 - Mar. 1 to be added)
Cam is a natural, fiery leader with a contagious personality that draws people to him. He's an easy comparison to Ben Roethlisberger. He has the same type build and size as Roethlisberger. Ben is known to move around in the pocket and avoid sacks to buy more time. Cam takes this attribute and runs with it....literally. He has much better feet and speed than Roethlisberger. Cam is extremely elusive in the pocket. Whether it's huge linemen or fast linebackers, it's hard for any player to get his hands on him and even harder to bring him down.
The size and speed that Newton possesses is unique. If he gets a crease to run, he'll hit the whole with no looking back. The worst thing a defense can do is allow him to get to the 2nd or 3rd level. It's as if a speedy defensive end is bearing down on you. There are not too many linebackers or defensive backs that want to attempt and bring down a 6'5 250 pounder running in the 4.5 range.
Anybody can see his value as a runner, but most people view this as a flaw in the NFL game because it usually means that they can't pass. Newton is one of the exceptions to the rule. He has the arm strength and decent enough accuracy to make defenses pay if they stack the box. What impresses me the most when it comes to Cam's passing is his ability to go through his progressions. It drives me insane watching all of the so-called "top prospects" zero in on their #1 option and go that route no matter the coverage or what the other receivers' situations look like.
Newton shows the ability to come off his first read if it's covered or if another route has a better matchup. He also seems to elevate his game when his back is against the wall. Like in the Iron Bowl against arch rival Alabama. Down 24-0 and with the whole season on the line, he led Auburn back to a 28-27 win. He did this numerous times throughout the year. He strives under pressure and wants the ball when the game is on the line, as a John Elway or Joe Montana did numerous times.
As with all elite running quarterbacks, Newton tucks the ball and gives up on the passing routes too soon. At the next level, every player is an elite athlete. He can't just hope to get by with his legs. He'll have to develop discipline in the pocket. If the pocket does break down and he has to scramble, I would like to see him look for the open route while on the run. Far too often he scrambles out the pocket and has open receivers on underneath routes or down field, yet he has already made up his mind to run.
He's proven his worth against some of the top defenses in the SEC, but while watching film on him I noticed how disciplined and talented his offensive line was. It doesn't stop there. He has a great set of blocking receivers and tight ends that all seem to work their blocking assignments to perfection. On film, when Cam takes off there is usually a gaping hole and when he gets to the 2nd level, his receivers have the secondary locked up. With his blazing speed combined with this blocking, it made him unstoppable in college. At the next level and especially if he's drafted in the top of the 1st round, he won't have that type of blocking to protect him.
That same blocking gave him a cozy feeling in the pocket as he usually had plenty of time to make his reads. When pressure does come, he has a flaw to his passing technique that I despise. As releasing the ball, he immediately starts stepping back. This will cause his throws to come up a little short. With the bigger windows in college, it didn't backfire much. At the next level, that extra foot or two short, will cost him turnovers.
Newton also struggles with safeties that come over the top while playing center field. Due to this fact, he usually throws more conservative on his deep passes. By that I mean he'll try to aim the ball into the receivers path instead of just throwing it as usual. This usually ends in the pass coming up slightly short and the receiver having to come back for it or fight for it. His receiver Darvin Adams saved him from numerous picks, but in the NFL the receivers aren't always more talented than the corners/safeties.
It's easy to tell that Cam Newton is a winner. He originally signed with Florida out of high school, but he had a few problems while there that led to his departure. He was charged with allegedly stealing a fellow student's laptop and later it was found in his possession. Newton entered a pretrial diversion program and after completion, the charges were dropped. He was temporarily suspended from the school when this first happened. It blew over in time, but after the story arose that he was busted for academic cheating on three different instances, he decided to transfer to Blinn College.
While at Blinn he led his team to the National Junior College football championship. On the heels of that championship, he transferred to Auburn, where we all know that he won a National Championship. In the process of winning the championship, he also won the Heisman trophy and became the 3rd person in FBS history to join the 20/20 club. That's 20 rushing touchdowns and 20 passing touchdowns in the same season. The other two members are his former mentor at Florida, Tim Tebow, and the man he's competing with in this draft process, Colin Kaepernick.
Everyone knows Cam's father, Cecil Newton Sr., from all of the negative publicity. The talk about his father at this time of year, though, should be the positive he gave Cam and that's the NFL blood that runs through his veins. Cecil Sr. played two seasons as a strong safety for the Dallas Cowboys. The NFL family bloodline doesn't stop there. Cam's older brother, Cecil Jr., is a center for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The bloodlines alone don't prepare you for the NFL, so Cam has hired George Whitfield Jr. to help get him ready. Whitfield also worked with Ben Roethlisberger in the past.
Potential NFL Team, Round
I've mentioned several times that it appears each team has its favorite quarterback. It's hard to tell which teams likes who the best. Newton appears to be one of the top two in my mind, though. I think the Arizona Cardinals with the 5th pick, is probably the earliest that a quarterback may go this year. If they like Newton the best, then they'll take him to become the new face of their franchise.
I seriously doubt that Cam lasts past the Jacksonville Jaguars at the 16th pick. I don't think David Garrard is an above average NFL QB, so I would definitely draft Cam to replace Garrard immediately. In between 5 and 16, there are a lot of teams that need talent at the quarterback position. The San Francisco 49ers at 7, Tennessee Titans at 8, Washington Redskins at 10, Minnesota Vikings at 12, and Miami Dolphins at 15 are all possibilities. As of right now, I like Cam to Miami with the 15th pick as the best spot. Miami was at its best when the wildcat was unstoppable. Teams figured it out and started to stop it when the running backs were running it. They drafted Pat White hoping that they would be able to get a quarterback that could pass and run the wildcat, but that failed. Cam Newton would be the perfect solution.
Jayson Braddock appears on Sports Radio 790 AM in Houston, TX, every Thursday morning at 11:19 am CST as the football insider on the Dylan Gwinn show. He's a graduate of the Sports Management World Wide Football GM & Scouting Course and has been mentored by former NFL player / executive John Wooten and Sporting News.com NFL Draft Expert Russ Lande. His work is mostly appreciated by die-hard fans interested in every little detail about their team and not just watered down mainstream talk. - Listeners NOT in the Houston metropolitan area can hear Jayson on iheart radio or sports7910.com. You may email Jayson directly @ [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @ JaysonBraddock
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