Cam Newton was a top high school quarterback recruit as he arrived onto Florida's campus. He won a NCAA title at two levels of football (albiet one of them in the Junior College ranks) and won college football's most prestigeous award, the Heisman Trophy as he went on to lead the Auburn Tigers to the BCS National Title Game.
But, like Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, and many other recent Heisman and BCS Title champions in the past, NFL success is not guarenteed, and his developement as a passer and a quarterback in an NFL based offense could determine if he not only makes in in the NFL, but if he's a top 10 selection.
The Following are excerpts from our 2011 NFL Draft Guide Scouting Report on Cam Newton. View the full version here for a sneak preview of how in-depth our Draft Guide will be.
Cam Newton was kicked off the Florida Gators team for stealing a laptop, forced to go to Blinn Junior College for a year, and had well known eligibility issues thanks to his father, thought that doesn't accurately speak to Cam's character. According to people close to Cam Newton, he wasn't well liked at Florida nor Blinn because he rides his teammates to the point past leadership and to disrespect, something that won't make him a leader in the NFL locker room.
Maturity issues concern myself as well as many NFL scouts when attempting to project his NFL potential. He still is a tough kid who uses JaMarcus Russell's failures to motivate himself, speaking well to his work ethic. Still, teams will be concerned to see if he is open to development into a system, as he may not react overly well to coaching or changing his overall philosophy as a passer. On the field, he worked in Gus Malzahn's simplified offense that has most of the reads done from the sideline.
Cam Newton was one of the most impressive college quarterbacks of the past ten years, and winning every game he's ever started in college should not be a factor overlooked. Granted he won a lot of games and made a lot of crucial plays with his feet, he is a more developed passer than most give him credit for.
His deep touch concerns are something that hopefully can be worked out through better footwork, which is a must for Newton to be a pocket passer, as well as more reps in going down the field. He throws a very tight ball, and his quick release and arm strength allow him to fit the ball into very tight windows. The system issue is definitely his biggest hindrance as an NFL prospect because it's not that he can't read the defenses, it's just that he doesn't have very translatable experience in doing it.
Still, his ability to break tackles and make defenders miss with his feet will allow him to be a dangerous weapon at quarterback and allow him to still have a chance to win games as he develops his technique and touch. I firmly believe that he can be highly successful in the NFL, but needs an offensive coach who he can work well with, as his attitude and character may conflict with coaches who attempt to overwork him or try and take control.
Still, if he's groomed properly and not asked to swallow the whole playbook early in his career, he can be a starter early on in his career and eventually become both a strong pocket passer and a dangerous runner. I think his motivation to not be the next JaMarcus Russell speaks to his drive, but his questionable attitude otherwise will be something that he most likely won't want to control, and being a quarterback involves being a leader of the team as well.
Newton has the NFL skill set of both a dual threat quarterback as well as a drop back passer, and in time and with the right coaching, could flourish in the NFL as a rare quarterback talent.