Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, possibly the most intriguing prospect in the 2011 NFL Draft, held a private workout for various media members at a San Diego high school this afternoon.
By all accounts, the rave reviews from those in attendance seem to indicate Newton’s performance was a great success.
So far, ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer has been the most vocal of the 50 or so media members who watched Newton go through a passing session, which included almost every route in the book. Dilfer described the workout as nearly mistake free and deemed Newton’s ceiling as almost limitless.
Emphasis was put on how Newton performed working from under center, something he did rarely during his one year at Auburn playing in Gus Malzahn’s unorthodox offensive system.
The 40-minute event was conducted by Newton’s quarterback coach George Whitfield Jr., who is serving as the young quarterback's tutor in the months leading up to the draft.
While it’s admittedly easy to look like a star when you’re in shorts, in a controlled setting, throwing in perfect conditions and there’s no 300 lb. defensive linemen bearing down on you, everything you’re hearing about Newton’s performance sounds overwhelmingly positive. The Heisman winner was praised for his arm strength, accuracy and mechanics—three of the most scrutinized traits for a pro quarterback prospect.
This may only be the appetizer for what Newton has in store for us over these next few months, but even so, it’s quite a tasty bite to nibble on.
Whether you’re a Cam Newton fan or one of his many sceptics, you have to appreciate this type of bold decision. It’s a completely different approach than what we saw from last year’s so-called “project quarterback” Tim Tebow, who put off working out for scouts until after the combine so he could perfect his new mechanics.
It’s also a rarity that a quarterback prospect with this type of notoriety would throw before the actual NFL Combine. Most top prospects usually decline the option to throw at the Combine and instead wait until their pro days or a specific workout day later on in the process.
If you’re searching for reasons why Newton and his support group would decide to put on a show like this so early on in the postseason evaluation process, remember the names JaMarcus Russell and Vince Young, two recent quarterback busts who are fresh in the minds of NFL followers.
Newton has already been unfairly typecast as just a Vince Young knockoff by his critics, and he seems to have taken a proactive approach to cooling that kind of crazy talk.
For a young man who’s about to bear the same brunt and harsh criticisms from the sports media as Young did in the months leading up to the 2006 Draft, this seems to be a wise move.
For some reason, Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert, a player who put up inflated passing numbers in a pass-heavy system and never managed to win a bowl game, has become the flavor of the moment over Newton, who just had one of the greatest single seasons we’ve ever seen from a college football player.
Well, that could all change if Newton continues proving his doubters wrong with showings like this.
When it comes to the NFL Draft, perception is reality and all the positive momentum you can get on your side can only help.
This is a good first step for Cam Newton; now we just have to wait and see how the rest of the process shakes out.
For those doubters that thought the National Championship game was the end of Cam Newton's miraculous journey, you may have been mistaken. It might turn out to be just the beginning.
If you listen closely, the Cam Newton bandwagon sounds like it's getting ready to start back up again.