2011 NFL Draft Player Profile: Cam Newton, Quarterback, Auburn Tigers
Cam Newton is a talented athlete from Westlake High School in Atlanta, Georgia. After finishing up high school, he went on to play football for the Florida Gators, as he would eventually back up Tim Tebow as a true freshman. After injuring his ankle against Hawaii, he would apply for a medical redshirt so that he didn’t lose a year of eligibility.
In late November of 2008, Newton was arrested after being accused of burglary, obstruction and larceny because of a stolen laptop that he allegedly purchased from another student on the Florida campus. After being suspended from the team, Newton withdrew from Florida and made his way to a Junior College.
Newton transferred to Blinn College, a small school in Texas. Playing quarterback, Newton led Blinn College fo a NJCAA National Football Championship. Blinn beat No. 1 ranked Fort Scott Community College by a score of 31-26. Newton didn’t have the greatest game, completing just 11 of 25 passes for 111 yards and an interception. He did rush for a touchdown, however.
After the National Championship victory, Newton was recruited by Mississippi State and Auburn University, eventually selecting the Auburn Tigers to continue his college career.
In 2010, Newton has tallied up 49 total touchdowns (28 pass, 20 rush, 1 reception). He’s thrown for 2,589 yards, and rushed for another 1,409 on the ground. He has an astonishing 10.5 yards per pass attempt, and has thrown just six interceptions on the season, while also completing 67.1 percent of his passes.
Did I mention that he punts too? Ok, not really. He did do a pooch punt one time, however.
NCAA allegations aside, Newton has put up one of the best single-season performances in NCAA history. The next stop is the NFL Draft, as he doesn’t really have much else to prove at Auburn.
Weight: 250 lbs.
One of Newton’s best weapons is his feet. Newton makes plays on the ground and makes it look easy. A 6’6" 250-pound frame makes it look like he’s jogging out there, when he’s actually running a 4.45-4.50 second forty yard dash.
He can break tackles, doesn’t run out of bounds and isn’t afraid to take a shot and fight for extra yardage. He’s a very tough player overall, and while he doesn’t seem to have the greatest intangibles, he has all of the physical aspects needed to succeed at the next level.
But it’s not just his feet that make plays. In fact, he may be a better passer than a scrambler. It’s a misconception that scrambling quarterbacks aren’t accurate, or can’t throw. It’s like the misconception that all strong-armed quarterbacks are inaccurate.
Newton has a very strong arm, and can make all of the throws at the next level. His accuracy is surprisingly nice as well. He can float the ball right over a defender, he can zip it in a small window and he can lead his receivers if he wants to. He doesn’t throw perfect passes every time, but who does?
No matter how great a prospect is, he will have weaknesses. Newton’s main weaknesses come in the passing game. There are times when he doesn’t seem to set his feet to throw. Often too confident in his arm, he will make an unbalanced throw off of his back foot.
I want to see him improve on his three-step and five-step drops when coming out directly under center. He plays a lot of shotgun right now, but that’s not going to happen in the NFL. This was something that many teams faulted Tim Tebow for in the 2010 NFL Draft.
Newton’s decision making could be improved at times as well. This is another confidence issue in some occasions. When you have such a strong arm, you believe you can put the ball anywhere on the field. In the NFL, that doesn’t happen often when throwing down field. Cornerbacks are just as fast as the wide receivers, and will be able to keep up with them. You won’t see many wide open receivers in the NFL.
Newton needs to learn to set his feet more and make a good form throw. His ability to scramble makes this hard to do, because he’ll sometimes get “happy feet” where he just wants to take off and run with the football. He’ll need to learn a bit more patience at the next level.
His intangibles are a bit of a mystery. While he’s clearly a leader on the Auburn team, and seemingly has a solid playing attitude, we don’t know all that much about him. One will question if he actually cheated in Florida, and if he knew the laptop was stolen. People are also going to be quick to take sides on whether or not to believe whether he knew he dad was involving him in a pay-to-play situation as well.
There are a lot of mysteries there, and that’s something that teams will figure out in NFL Combine interviews.
Obviously, character concerns are going to present a huge issue, and will be a reason that a few teams, specifically the Colts, Browns, Jaguars and Chiefs most likely steer clear from Newton. Any time a major incident is brought upon a player, whether he’s innocent or not, can sometimes be a big negative.
Right now, there’s no doubt in my mind that Cam Newton is a surefire first round pick. Not only based on his ability, but based on the history of the NFL. Vince Young was heavily criticized for having just above-average arm strength and poor accuracy, but was drafted No. 3 overall in 2006.
Tim Tebow was heavily criticized for his throwing motion and poor footwork, as well as playing in the shotgun. He was taken in the late part of the first round in 2010. Newton actually can throw the ball, and throw it well. Add in the fact that he can run too, and you get a fantastic pro prospect.
Depending on the team, Newton could surpass Andrew Luck as the No. 1 quarterback in the 2011 NFL Draft class, but it’s all about preference. If a team like the Vikings were to move up and obtain the No. 1 pick, I think they’d take a chance on Newton instead of Luck.
Newton could go as high as number one overall, and drop as low as pick No. 20, in my view. His physical talent alone will get him drafted in the Top 15 for sure.
Five Teams Who Want Him
There will be a few teams that will look at Newton very closely. I think the Vikings will study Cam Newton the most out of every team in the NFL. Teams like San Francisco, Miami, Cincinnati and Tennessee are the organizations that will be studying Newton thoroughly in the offseason.
Minnesota almost seems like a lock to find a new quarterback. Tavaris Jackson isn’t bad, but his value seems to be as a very solid backup quarterback, and not much more. This depends on whether or not Leslie Frazier will full take over head coaching duties, or if the Vikings will look elsewhere for a head coach will also play a factor. This, finally, seems to be the end of Brett Favre’s career.
Miami seems to like Chad Henne, but he’s a sporadic quarterback, and they have too much offensive talent that isn’t being utilized. Newton being a part of a Ronnie Brown wildcat would be very scary for opposing teams.
Cincinnati would be smart to start looking elsewhere for a quarterback as Carson Palmer is aging, and has been a big reason for the lack of success in Cincinnati. Of course, the defense needs a lot of work also, but it may be best to get the future started with Newton.
The 49ers are a big time candidate. The Alex Smith era seems to be over after the poor outings in 2010, and Troy Smith is only a mediocre replacement. Newton has the arm to get the ball down field to Crabtree, and would find a way to get Vernon Davis the ball.
Tennessee has Vince Young, but with the attitude of Young, and issues with Young and Head Coach Jeff Fisher, Tennessee could go in a different route. Young will only be on contract with the Titans through 2011. Newton could sit for a season and learn under Kerry Collins and Vince Young.
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