Cam Newton: Why He Won't Win Offensive Rookie of the Year

David KindervaterCorrespondent IMay 5, 2011

Cam Newton: Why He Won't Win Offensive Rookie of the Year

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  Cam Newton, #1 overall pick by the Carolina Panthers holds up a jersey on stage after he was picked during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    It didn't come as much of a surprise when the Carolina Panthers selected Cam Newton with the first overall pick in the 2011 NFL draft.

    Newton has a very rare mix of size, strength and speed, and you cannot question his heart or desire to succeed. It's a great starting point for success in the NFL.

    But Newton is a high-risk, high-reward type player.

    His lack of experience is frightening when you consider the scope of the job in front of him.

    Newton will compete (so we're told) with incumbent starter Jimmy Clausen for the starting spot, but I think we all know how that so-called battle will turn out.

    This is Cam Newton's team now.

    Nevertheless, Panther fans better not expect him to win the next offensive Rookie of the Year award. There are too many obstacles, namely his lack of experience and the uncertainty behind a 2-14 Carolina Panthers team.

    Let's take a closer look.

Cam Newton's Lack of Experience

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    INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 27:  Cam Newton looks on during the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    As much as Cam Newton has going for him—the aforementioned size, strength and off-the-charts talent—his NFL career begins with too much working against him.

    Newton's experience at the college level is minute compared to most incoming rookies. His success is at the opposite end of the spectrum, but for a quarterback about to experience an NFL baptism by fire, he's not even close to being ready.

    Newton's meteoric rise from junior college success to major college success simply won't be able to continue. I'm not saying he won't win at this level. But it's going to take time.

    Newton only attempted 246 passes at Auburn. Think about that—only 246 pass attempts. And a mere 50-something of those were from the pocket, where NFL quarterbacks make their living.

    It's almost unfathomable to think he's going to put on a Carolina Panthers jersey with such a meager amount of reps on his football resume. Especially at the quarterback position.

The 2-14 Carolina Panthers Select Cam Newton

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 28:  Cam Newton, #1 overall pick by the Carolina Panthers holds up a jersey on stage after he was picked during the 2011 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on April 28, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
    Chris Trotman/Getty Images

    Don't forget, the Carolina Panthers were 2-14 last season. And as much as they addressed some key needs with their 2011 draft class, it isn't nearly enough to turn this team around overnight.

    Add to that equation the uncertainty of a brand new coaching staff, and there's really no way of predicting what Carolina football will look like this season.

    One thing the Panthers have going for them is the potential for a decent running game behind Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. And a solid running game will be Cam Newton's best friend. He'll need all the help he can get to take the great expectations off his shoulders.

Cam Newton, NFL Players Locked out

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    SAN DIEGO, CA - FEBRUARY 10: 2010 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Cam Newton of Auburn throws the ball during his workout routine for the media at Cathedral High School's sports stadium on February 10, 2011 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kent Horn
    Kent Horner/Getty Images

    It's not helping matters that the NFL's labor unrest essentially means Cam Newton can't even work out with his new team. OTAs and mini camps are great benefits for any new player.

    Sure, when the lockout was temporarily lifted there was a small window of opportunity for Newton to get his hands on a playbook. And that's a good thing. But barring some kind of miracle, he'll be lucky to get any mentoring from his coaching staff—or valuable practice time with his teammates—until training camp or later.

    It's not a great time to be a rookie at any position, especially quarterback.

Cam Newton: Success or Bust? Time Will Tell

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    SAN DIEGO, CA - FEBRUARY 10: 2010 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Cam Newton of Auburn answers questions after his workout routine for the media at Cathedral High School's sports stadium on February 10, 2011 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kent Hor
    Kent Horner/Getty Images

    There are varying opinions about whether or not Cam Newton will be a great success story in the NFL or just another quarterback who didn't realize a lot of potential—in other words, a bust.

    Granted, Newton's potential may be greater than most, but the obstacles, nonetheless, need to be hurdled.

    Cam Newton isn't going to win the offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2011.

    But I'm not ruling out league MVP in five years. So much will depend on what he experiences—and how he responds to those experiences—in his first season.