As if being the top overall pick in the draft wasn’t enough pressure, Cam Newton now becomes the face of the worst team in the NFL in 2010 in the Carolina Panthers.
With the expected departures of starting RB DeAngelo Williams and All-Pro WR Steve Smith, the Panthers are left with a bunch of question marks of the offensive side of the ball. Newton is far from a sure thing himself. He possesses amazing physical skills and raw talent but only time will tell if these attributes will translate to becoming an effective NFL QB.
Cam Newton – QB – Carolina Panthers
Height: 6’5” – Weight: 250 lbs – College: Auburn
2010 Stats: Passing – 185-280 (66.1%), 2854 yards, 30 TD, 7 INT
Rushing -- 264-1473 yards rushing, 5.6 YPC, 20 TD
Cam Newton is as physically gifted as any player to ever play professional football. He has the perfect size and arm strength of a franchise quarterback, the speed and tackle-breaking ability of a starting NFL running back and the hands and leaping ability of a prototype stud receiver all rolled into one package.
From an NFL perspective, however, he is raw.
Newton has good natural instincts in the pocket and the proper over the top throwing delivery that coaches like to see. But he hasn’t been in a pro-style offense; thus, he’s very weak at making defensive reads and going through standard progressions. Though he has a powerful arm, his throws have a tendency to sail on him and are often not in a proper location for his receivers to run after the catch. NFL defensive backs will pick him off with regularity.
Newton is a passionate kid who is a vocal leader for his team. But he comes to Carolina with some questions about his character stemming from several incidents in college. He must keep out of trouble and show a willingness to put in extra work on a daily basis to earn the trust of his fellow teammates.
All the tools are there, but can they build something sustainable for both Newton and the Panthers in 2011? The key to that question will come in the summer before Newton ever takes a NFL snap. Training camp is where rookie QBs need to establish themselves as sponges willing to absorb any and all information that veteran players and coaches throw at them.
Nobody will be as scrutinized as Cam Newton this summer, and thus he must show everybody how badly he wants to succeed in the NFL. There will be some huge games for him this season though, as his skills are just too great to ignore.
Newton will make the majority of his fantasy impact with his legs especially if Carolina fails to land an established receiver this offseason. Newton will get the opportunity to start almost from day one, which ensures he should be drafted in most fantasy leagues this year.
Ideally, he fits as a No. 3 or “project” QB on your fantasy team, or possibly a No. 2 if you get a Peyton Manning or Phillip Rivers, who never get injured. Newton obviously has more value in keeper and dynasty leagues though still shouldn't be taken above some of the better rookie running backs. He will have a difficult time adjusting to the NFL lifestyle and especially a team that has little talent in the skill positions.
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Jeff Mans is a contributor to Bleacher Report, the Senior Writer at Fantasy Alarm and the host of SiriusXM's Fantasy Alarm Show every Saturday and Sunday 5-8 PM EST.