Cam Newton's Impressive Rookie Year: Why Were so Many so Wrong?

Jon DoveContributor IFebruary 5, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 24:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers drops back to pass during their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

I was one of the many people who felt the Carolina Panthers made a mistake selecting Cam Newton No. 1 overall.

His game had too many holes and question marks for him to be considered the top prospect. There was no doubting his potential and upside, but no guarantee he would live up to his physical gifts.

The biggest concern I had was his ability to read a defense and protect the football. While at Auburn, he ran his spread attack that featured his ability to make plays with his legs.

When he was asked to throw, the ball was often to one side of the field with most of the reads coming pre-snap. This concerned me, as it appears he was being protected by the offensive coaching staff.

Basically, those who doubted Newton saw somebody who posed a lot a risk. Using the top overall pick on someone with so many question marks usually ends poorly.

The recent failures of highly-drafted quarterbacks like to JaMarcus Russell and Joey Harrington absolutely impacted people's perception of Newton. The unknown and question marks helped develop the doubters.

Newton absolutely proved all the doubters wrong. He did so because of his commitment, hard work and willingness to learn. Those factors, combined with a good coaching staff and Newton's physical talent, helped him break the rookie passing record.

The most surprising part of his rookie season has to be his 4,000 passing yards. Just about all the question marks surrounding his game dealt with his ability to pass the football. However, he showed an enhanced ability to read the defense and find the open target.

As expected, he was also able to make several explosive plays with his feet. However, he absolutely was a pass-first quarterback only using his legs in specific situations. Even when faced with pressure, Newton kept his eyes down the field looking to make a play through the air.