As Madden 12 hit shelves today, many fans are focusing on how the rookies look in the new game. Back on July 18, EA Sports released its list of the top 10 rookies in Madden 12. Most of the guys on the list made sense, as did their ratings. There was one omission that some have taken issue with, though: Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
Newton was the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft after a brilliant season at Auburn. He led the Tigers to the BCS Championship while winning himself the Heisman Trophy. Newton was clearly the best player in college football last year, but that won't necessarily translate to success in the NFL.
Newton actually got a higher overall grade from the Madden folks than I would have given him. He checks in at a 77 overall, making him the Panthers' best quarterback by four points over Matt Moore (who is now with the Miami Dolphins) and seven over Jimmy Clausen.
Newton gets high marks in the athleticism department, as he has 83 speed, 94 acceleration and 88 agility. He is also given a very strong arm, with 97 throwing power, and gets a very generous 81 for accuracy. In the more specific categories, he gets an 85 in throwing accuracy on deep balls, 72 for medium and 87 for short. Meanwhile, he gets an 87 for throwing on the run and a 67 for his play action rating.
The big area of concern for Newton (or any young quarterback) is awareness, and Madden's team clearly doesn't believe he's ready to be a big-time NFL quarterback. Newton's awareness is just 49 in his Madden debut.
As I said before, I think the ratings are generous. Does Cam Newton have a ton of potential? Absolutely. But from what we've seen this preseason out of him, I have no faith that he is ready to lead an NFL offense right now.
Thus far in three games, Newton has completed just 21 of 52 passes (40.4 completion percentage) for 275 yards (5.3 per attempt), with no touchdowns and no interceptions. He has been sacked four times and has a quarterback rating of just 57.8. What's most troubling is that he has also shown no progress from one game to the next.
Newton didn't call plays in the huddle last year at Auburn, he didn't make adjustments or checks at the line and he often only had one read in the passing game. If that receiver wasn't open, he just tucked the ball and ran.
That was a wildly successful way to run an offense for the Tigers. It won't work like that in the NFL.
Newton has a long way to go before he is considered one of the elite rookies in his class.