Last week at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, former Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Greg McElroy did some things that turned heads. Not only did he score a remarkable 48 out of 50 on the enigmatic Wonderlic test, but he also had some choice remarks about former Auburn quarterback and recent Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton.
McElroy was appearing on the Dan Patrick Show, and was asked who was more NFL-ready out of the two of them. The man not even expected to be taken in the first round then said some surprising words.
"I say me," McElroy said. "Obviously, my talent level has a much lower ceiling than Cam. That's fair, and I respect and understand that. But I don't think I'm the only guy in the NFL that might have the same problem—I don't think Peyton Manning is as athletic as Cam."
Not only did McElroy essentially call out the best college player in the nation, but he also somewhat challenged the athleticism of one of the NFL's top quarterbacks! Yet, he wasn't done.
"As far as understanding and processing information...five years down the road will he be a more productive player than me? That remains to be seen," he said. "I think with my experience in the pro-style offense, my ability to drop back from under center, make checks from the line of scrimmage without looking at the sideline, all of those things play in my corner as far as being prepared to make the transition to the next level."
Now, part of me thinks that McElroy let that insane Wonderlic score go to his head and now he can suddenly talk a big game, but he actually may have a fair point. That all being said, did his remarks hurt his chances of being drafted early? Let's analyze the college careers of both him and Newton.
McElroy was a two-year starter at the University of Alabama, winning a national championship in 2009, his junior year. That season, McElroy threw for 2,508 yards and 17 touchdowns, and only four interceptions. He improved in his senior season, throwing for 2,987 yards and 20 touchdowns and only five interceptions. More amazingly, his completion percentage was an incredible 70.9.
Now let's have a look at Cam Newton. He was only a starter for one year after transferring to Auburn from the University of Florida, and he chose to forgo his senior season after winning a national championship in 2010. In his Heisman season, Newton threw for 2,854 yards and 30 touchdowns as well as rushing for 1,473 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Given, Auburn head coach Gene Chizik employs a run-it-and-gun-it style offense, so it's fair to say that Newton's numbers might be a tad inflated. If he's drafted into an offense that's more focused on pocket passing, chances are that he'll struggle at first. Between him and McElroy, he has much bigger bust potential.
On top of that, despite showing great speed and athleticism at the Combine, Newton didn't throw particularly well for the scouts. Of course, he does have a great arm with natural strength so the Combine performance could be called a fluke. Sadly, we cannot compare his arm with that of McElroy as the former member of the Crimson Tide sat out the throwing drills with a broken wrist.
Now that I've analyzed the stats down to a tee along with the Combine performances, it's time to see if McElroy's remarks are accurate. As fun as Newton is to watch, he isn't completely NFL ready. He is used to one style of offense and will struggle his first year in the NFL.
McElroy, on the other hand, is definitely more NFL ready. He had a great coach in Nick Saban, while Newton had Gene Chizik; great coach, but he's had one good season. It's a bit early to label him as one of the best.
On resume alone, Newton is better. Yet, McElroy is the one to go with if a team wants a quarterback who will come to work to win and, more importantly, to learn.
That being said, will Cam Newton's Combine performance ultimately prove McElroy right? Well, that remains to be seen. At this point, Newton will definitely be drafted first. Yet, if I had to pick which would have the more successful career, that honor goes to McElroy.
He is the player that coaches dream of. He stays out of trouble, is incredibly intelligent, and reads defenses incredibly well.
Come draft day, it will be interesting to see how McElroy's words affect both his and Newton's draft stock.