Welcome to the league, Rookie.
Many college athletes aspire to one day simply make it on a roster of an NFL franchise. They dream of having a professional jersey with their own last name on the back. They hope that even just once, they could have thousands of fans screaming their praise in a packed NFL stadium.
Then, there are athletes like the five who were nominated for Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year; Andy Dalton, Von Miller, Patrick Peterson, Aldon Smith and Cam Newton. These athletes went above and beyond skipping the designation of “just another rookie” and going straight to being NFL stars.
Much like Newton ran through defenses and into the end zone, he will run away with this award as well.
Of course you can make the case for others to win this award over Newton, who led his team to a 6-10 record and a third place finish in the NFC South.
Aldon Smith, Von Miller, and Andy Dalton all have games to play this weekend. All three of those athletes played a large role in earning the playoff berth for their team.
Patrick Peterson from LSU has spent only one season in the NFL and is already considered the league’s next Devin Hester. Peterson’s return skills are deadly and the longer he spends in the league sharpening his skills the more dangerous it will become to kick the ball his way.
Cam Newton is better than all of these players.
The first overall pick out of Auburn may have struggled this year with going through progressions and throwing interceptions, but he will surely improve on that flaw in years to come.
As for his upside, Newton gave Panthers fans a lot to be excited about.
Newton was the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for other 4,000 yards (4,051) while rushing for over 500 (706). He set the NFL record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback as well as breaking the rookie passing yards record, taking the record away from some guy named Peyton Manning.
The other players listed above were great, but they really had to work to develop a name for themselves early on in the season.
Newton however, had a lot to live up to before taking his first snap. He answered for me in the first two weeks of the season why he would eventually win Rookie of the Year, throwing for 854 yards and three TDs
Although those games were both losses, you have to understand that it would take a lot more than a great player to turn around the Carolina Panthers. Newton speeds this process up substantially, and because of his talents Carolina will find themselves in the playoffs a lot sooner than you think.
What Newton will still need to improve on is his 60 percent completion percentage, which wasn’t outstanding, and the fact he threw 17 interceptions. Newton will have to cut those mistakes down if he wants to be as dominant as Matt Ryan or Drew Brees in the NFC South.
The most exciting thing of all is that Newton isn’t even close to satisfied with his numbers, and he always says he needs to do more in order for the Panthers to win.
Newton will figure it all out in seasons to come. As for this year the record setting, touchdown throwing, duel threat running phenomenal QB should own the distinction of NFL Pepsi Rookie of the Year.
And it won’t even be close.