Cam Newton entered the 2011 as the No. 1 pick and one of the most exciting players to emerge out of the NFL draft—largely in part to the numbers that he chalked up at the NFL Combine.
His incredible athleticism and agility made him the most watched player at the combine in 2011 and his numbers didn't disappoint, as he finished third in the vertical leap, third in the 40-yard dash, strong with the deep throw and first in the broad jump.
And in 2012, Newton didn't disappoint, as he proved his athletic ability was genuine and his long arm legit, as he took out the Pepsi Rookie of the Year and Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.
In 2012, Newton has become Robert Griffin III.
Not that RG3 is exactly the same as Newton, but many have compared the two in their athleticism and raw ability on the football field. Griffin won't go off as the No. 1 pick like Newton did, but he will definitely go top five—perhaps even second—in the 2012 NFL Draft.
And after the 2012 combine numbers have been crunched, Griffin is an even more exciting prospect than Newton was, simply because he is a better quarterback.
Newton may be taller and weigh more, but Griffin's athletic abilities are unquestionably greater.
The Baylor quarterback ran a 4.41 in the 40-yard dash—the fastest time by a quarterback since Michael Vick—which was also 0.18 faster than Newton's time the year before.
Griffin jumped 10'0" for his broad jump, meaning that Newton's 10'6" was clearly farther, but he managed 39" in the vertical leap—eclipsing Newton's 35".
Such was his success that he opted not to throw at the combine, or perform the three-cone drill or 20-yard dash. His stock was simply already high enough and he didn't have to do anything more to improve it; nor did he want to jeopardize it.
Newton will go as the higher draft pick; Griffin will go as the more exciting.
And the dual-threat that RG3 offers is just as deadly as Newton or Vick or even Tebow to some extent—even as a rookie in the NFL.
Griffin told the Washington Post:
There's just a misconception that comes with being a dual-threat quarterback—you run first, throw second. I've proven I throw first and then run if I have to.
Baylor wide-receiver Kendall Wright told the Post:
He's stopped relying on his legs—he can kill people other ways. He started working on his arm and he got good at throwing it everywhere and only runs when he has to.
Wright is first-hand proof of Griffin's ability as he reeled in 108 of the quarterback's passes for 14 touchdowns and a total of 1,663 receiving yards.
And at the end of the day, all RG3 truly wanted to achieve at the NFL Combine was not to be greater than Newton, or Luck—he just wanted to demonstrate his skills and show his prowess. Said the man himself:
As a player, you want a team that really wants you. I hope somebody falls in love with me other than my fiancee.
Statistically, and emotionally, it's tough not to give RG3 the nod over Newton.
The current Heisman trophy winner (Griffin) has succeeded his predecessor (Newton) and maybe 2012 will follow the storyline where the apprentice outshines the master.
Newton has the benefit of having a year in the big league under his belt. Griffin has the advantage of having more skill and potential.
Which player will have the better year?
I guess we'll just have to wait and find out.
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