A chance to be special
Los Angeles Times
Just got done watching snippets of former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton's media workout. This just in: Newton is really good. What's hilarious about the NFL is it prods, pokes and measures its quarterback prospects and still drafts Ryan Leaf in the top five and Tom Brady in the sixth round. The NFL gets so caught up on analysis, it sometimes turns into paralysis.
I don't need a stopwatch or combine to tell me Newton will make it in the NFL. Sometimes you just need to watch a guy. It's true Newton, like Alex Smith, Vince Young and Tim Tebow, must adjust from the spread-style offense to the pro game.
But Newton will adjust. He's a beast, at 6 feet, 6 inches and 250 pounds and he has an NFL arm that only needs minimal tweaking. He may not be as NFL ready as Peyton Manning or Sam Bradford were, but he has a chance to be the kind of "bust" that turns into a statue.
Talent to succeed
First and foremost, Newton might want dump his jersey number, considering JaMarcus Russell entered the league wearing the same No. 2. But seriously, Newton is highly unlikely to follow in Russell's footsteps as a first-round bust. I project success for Newton, provided he lands with the right team. The Heisman Trophy winner is too talented and too confident not to succeed. He simply needs to adjust to working under center and reading NFL defenses, which might take some time and patience.
He's no Michael Vick, but Newton should be as productive as a Steve McNair or Randall Cunningham. Landing with the Vikings could be the ideal scenario because Adrian Peterson would alleviate so much pressure. And as long as Newton's father, Cecil, doesn't try to run the show, Cam Newton should thrive running an NFL offense.
Good but not great
Let's consider Cam Newton's credentials. He's physically imposing, he can run and throw, and he's coming off a season in which is carried Auburn to a national championship.
So what's not to like? Well, the NFL draftniks have a tendency to overanalyze players. And despite months of pondering their choices and studying players at workouts, teams make mistakes. Actually, they make a lot of mistakes.
Newton's body of work in college should be strong enough to draw interest from any team in search of a quarterback. But his strong private media workout has analysts panting and raving, as if a shining performance by the best player in college football is something of a revelation.
So will Newton be the next JaMarcus Russell or the next Aaron Rodgers? We'll vote for somewhere in between, but he's likely to be closer to Rodgers than Russell.
Can't throw well enough
I don't believe Cam Newton is going to be a great NFL quarterback. He just doesn't throw well enough.
He's got everything else. His size and speed make him very attractive, and he will be a first-round pick. He runs more like a running back, almost flowing down the field until he is about to get hit, and then he can lower his shoulder and deliver punishment with the best runners in the game.
But Vince Young could run too.
Newton did a great job running Auburn's offense. And he was clearly the best player in the college game this season. But I'm hearing he has trouble making all the NFL throws he'll need to make.
That, at the end of the day, is still what NFL quarterbacks need to do.