Carolina Panthers: Can Cam Newton Win Rookie of the Year?

Ryan KennedyAnalyst IIAugust 17, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 13:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers during their preseason game against the New York Giants at Bank of America Stadium on August 13, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The odds of Cam Newton winning rookie of the year seem to not be in his favor.

Only five times has a quarterback won the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. Dennis Shaw of the Buffalo Bills was the first, and the second quarterback did not win until Ben Roethlisberger in 2004. Since then Vince Young, Matt Ryan and Sam Bradford have all won.

History showed that quarterbacks don't win rookie of the year, they struggled. That is even if they got on the field at all. John Elway, Peyton Manning, Drew Bledsoe and Troy Aikman all had terrible rookie years and then went onto Hall of Fame-caliber careers.

It fares even worse for No. 1 overall draft picks. Only four of them have ever been named Rookie of the Year. Sam Bradford won it last year and was the first in almost 30 years to do so.

So, Newton has those two trends he will need to overcome.

That won't be the hardest part of winning the rookie of the year. Newton is still learning how to play in a pro-style offense. In his first "real" test, Newton looked comfortable but not spectacular. He completed eight passes and just barely missed connecting with his receivers on others. Newton took snaps from under center and the shotgun, and was rushed due to poor play on the offensive line.

The rookie of the year should not be judged on one preseason game though. From all accounts of his teammates, he has been a consummate professional and is open to learning. Simple improvement doesn't mean he should be the rookie of the year either.

Newton's chances got better this offseason with the return of Steve Smith, who mulled retirement or asked for a trade, depending on various reports. The Panthers also added Greg Olsen to bolster the receiving game.

The rookie of the year is someone who dominates the game in their first year, not merely assimilates into the NFL. The odds that Cam Newton enters a different type of offense and excels right away are astronomical. The odds that he doesn't fall on his face in his first season are only slightly better.

The Panthers have made every attempt to make Newton comfortable in Carolina—he has three teammates from Auburn on the preseason roster. No matter how comfortable he is though, he will struggle. The chances of him being the second first-overall quarterback to win the rookie of the year are only slightly better than mine.

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