Cam Newton: History Shows Path to Success Begins with the Draft

Brian DiTullioSenior Writer IApril 28, 2011

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 10:  Quarterback Cameron Newton #2 of the Auburn Tigers celebrates the Tigers 22-19 victory against the Oregon Ducks in the Tostitos BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 10, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Cam Newton Has His Window Of Opportunity

Cam Newton will hear his name called at some point early in the evening of the first round of the NFL Draft. There is too much evidence to indicate otherwise.

What Newton has in front of him is a chance few people get. Now he not only has to take advantage of it, he has to trust the coaches and front office of the team who drafts him. He can not fight with them, or insist he knows better. He has to work with them.

Historically, the teams who draft a franchise quarterback and successfully develop him have success, including Super Bowl wins. Success rarely comes through free agency.

Newton has to realize a few things before he embarks upon his NFL career, one of those being he knows almost nothing about playing in the NFL. He knows more than most people reading this, including myself, but that is about all he can really say at this moment.

Newton may go first overall in the draft, but that is just a matter of circumstance. Newton has to realize draft order is its own animal and that once he is in the team facility, he is just another player. The veterans do not care where he was drafted any more than he cares where they were drafted.

Newton's flaws on the field are well known. He comes from a very simplistic offense where there is one read and then he makes his decision. Jon Gruden exposed Newton on his show last week when it comes to snap counts.

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Newton looked like he thought Gruden was speaking Greek or Chinese and that is worrisome, but not a dealbreaker. As long as Newton is willing to put in the time and effort, he can pick up the intricacies of the pro-style offense.

For the team who drafts him, they have to put all of their efforts into developing him properly. ESPN did a piece recently about how many teams who draft and develop their franchise quarterback have success compared to those who look for "the guy" through trades or free agency.


Of the 60 teams that qualified for the postseason since 2006, two-thirds of them had a primary starting quarterback who was either drafted by or played his first NFL game with that franchise, including seven of the 12 playoff teams last season. Only 13.3 percent of playoff starters were acquired in a trade over the past five years.

The percentage of championship-winning quarterbacks acquired in trades is even lower. Since 1990, only two Super Bowl winners started a quarterback who was acquired in a post-draft trade. Fortunately for Schaub and the Texans, along with franchises hoping the Eagles are willing to part ways with Kolb, both quarterbacks in the trade category (Steve Young and Brett Favre) were acquired before starting an entire season in the NFL and went on to have stellar careers with their new teams.

This is not a surprising number for anyone who pays attention. It just shows the burden of developing a franchise quarterback is as much on the team's shoulders as it is the players.

One big question surrounding Newton has been if he has the drive to succeed in the NFL, and the answer coming out of Carolina (the team who supposedly will draft him), is "yes."

There is no reason to doubt this statement. Of all the red flags that have popped up around Newton, none of them suggested he would lollygag his way through practice.

The question is if Newton can be dedicated enough to learn what he needs to in the film room and the playbook to match his natural athletic talents.

Only Newton can answer that question, and only time will tell.