Cam Newton: What the Experts Were Saying Then Versus Now
Cam Newton may be the most doubted, hated on disrespected, turned successful NFL Draft pick of all time.
Leaving college on the highest level of football achievable, as an undefeated champion and Heisman trophy winner, one would think Newton would have the least critics out of anyone. Wrong.
Newton went into draft combines and team workouts with an army of naysayers and doubters and came out with even more. Yet he was still selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers, and they made the right decision.
What Cam Newton has done so far as a rookie is something that will go unmatched for years to come. His statistics have been simply out of this world. Even those who believed in Newton have admitted that he has far surpassed their greatest expectations.
As for the haters, they questioned his arm, his mechanics, his accuracy, his decision making in the pocket, his ability to play quarterback, his knowledge of the game, his ability to play in a pro style, his character and even his smile.
Newton inevitably has turned all of the question marks into periods.
His arm? How about two 400-yard games in his first two games as a pro to kick off his 2,393 passing yard total thus far .
His mechanics? See exhibit A.
His accuracy? See exhibit A.
His decision making? See exhibit A. Oh, and if you thought all he would do was run, see exhibit A, but don't worry; he does that too. With 319 rushing yards and seven touchdowns, Newton falls behind only elite running backs Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy for rushing touchdowns.
His ability to play quarterback? See all of the previous.
His knowledge of the game? See all of the previous while taking into consideration that the kid admits that, even now, he's not completely sure what's going on at all times. Imagine what will happen when he does.
His ability to play in a pro style? I think you get the drift.
Oh, and his character and smile? Some people tried to call those fraudulent too, but so far, the kid seems well liked and respected by his teammates, as well as the media, meanwhile showing great leadership qualities.
Any other questions?
Mel Kiper, ESPN
According to this article, back around March 9, 2011, NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper said during a conference call that Cam Newton was a "one year wonder," while comparing him to former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback draft bust Akili Smith.
However, according to an ESPN article written just a few days ago by Mr. Kiper himself, he also apparently said back in February that he has never seen a quarterback with the upside of Cam Newton, ever.
The statements seem to be a little contradictory, but here is what Kiper is saying now.
"But that doesn't mean Newton wasn't a massive risk for Carolina. In fact, because the Panthers drafted him at No. 1, he was one of the biggest risks in draft history."
Sounds a little bit like he's trying to defend his initial opinion. If he has one of the greatest upsides, maybe ever, how is that one of the biggest risks ever?
Jon Gruden, ESPN
ESPN analyst and former head coach Jon Gruden was never hesitant with his thoughts on Newton, and he may have been spot on.
According to this article, around April 11, Jon Gruden gushed over Cam Newton while giving the young quarterback his endorsement.
After working Newton out and spending time in the classroom with him, Gruden said, "I think Cam Newton's the best player in the country, I agree with the Heisman Trophy people that gave him the award. He's got everything I'm looking for."
And according to this article from September, Newton seems to have lived up all of Gruden's expectations and more.
“What Cam has done so far from a statistical standpoint has been spectacular -- absolutely jaw-dropping,” Gruden said. “I’m in total shock and awe about him. The fact that he’s had two 400-yard games already – and one of them against the Packers – I’m not sure any quarterback has ever started out better.”
“From a talent standpoint, the guy is a physical freak for his position,” Gruden said. “I knew it would happen for him, but I didn’t know it would happen this quickly. But Cam has a certain degree of magic.”
Gil Brandt, NFL.com
NFL.com senior analyst and former vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys, Gil Brandt has a lot of experience evaluating talent, and he was a guy that was buying into Cam Newton from the jump.
In his article posted back in March titled, "Believe the hype: Newton has intangibles to be a start" Brandt wasn't simply talking potential like everyone else; he was talking intangibles, which many thought Newton lacked.
Brandt said, "I’ve talked to a lot of players and coaches who were around Newton at Auburn, people whose opinions I trust, and I’ve come to this conclusion: Newton is the real deal."
Brandt even went on to credit Newton's passing, which is what most experts doubted.
He said, "The one thing most people will agree on is that Newton has a ton of talent, both as a passer and a natural athlete."
He then went on to say, "Will he be as productive as Sam Bradford was in his first year? No. But he will be a big-time quarterback in the NFL within a few years. This is a special guy."
Well, he was wrong about the Bradford part, but definitely right about the special guy. Newton is a once in a generation player.
So what is Brandt saying now?
In this article published Sept. 21, Brandt seemed to admit that Newton exceeded even his expectations, "I’ve scouted thousands of players and wouldn’t make this statement lightly: Through two games, Cam Newton is the most impressive rookie quarterback I've seen come into the league."
Yes, he is a special guy, Gil.
Merril Hoge, ESPN
ESPN analyst Merril Hoge was one of the guys who made notable quotes ripping Cam Newton back in March before the draft.
Hoge flat out said Newton was not ready an NFL ready quarterback, while mainly bashing his throwing accuracy.
This article has a number of quotes from Hoge, who has since eaten crow.
In the article, Hoge said athletically, he might be a 12, but "as a quarterback he's probably pushing around a four."
Hoge went on to say, "Donovan [McNabb] would be a Kurt Warner compared to Cam Newton as far as accuracy goes."
"The only word I can use after watching four games is atrocious," he said. "You never know where that ball will end up. In fact, he was more of a runner than he ever was a passer."
Well Hoge couldn't have been more further from the truth, which has led to him now saying that Newton has been 'mind boggling' and that he "has been most impressed with Newton's willingness to stay in the pocket and go through his pass progressions rather than taking off running at the first opportunity."
Kurt Warner, NFL Network
Perhaps NFL analyst and former quarterback Kurt Warner did not like Merril Hoge's comparison of Newton to him, and that's what led him to doubt the Carolina Panther's pick of the quarterback following draft day.
Quoted in April by the Huffington Post, Warner was not sure that the Panthers made the right decision stating, “I think he’s the most dynamic player in this draft, but as far as being the most effective pro, I don’t think so. I don’t see it. I think he has too much work to do. Maybe it’s the pick they had to make, but I don’t know if it was the right pick for the Panthers.”
Later asked if he thought Newton was a franchise quarterback, Warner said, "I don’t think he’s a franchise quarterback, definitely not at this time,” Warner said. “It has yet to be seen whether he will get there, but I think it will be very, very difficult.”
Seems it may be less difficult than Warner originally thought.
In an interview from back on Sept. 14, Warner was impressed with Newton's decisions to stay in the pocket and even take the sack at times, as opposed to taking off to run.
Warner said his biggest question was whether Cam could make the necessary throws, but admitted that this development was the most impressive thing to him.
“Watching the film and to know: Was he going through his reads? Was his first read open all the time? I was impressed with the way he stood in the pocket and delivered every throw. He made throw after throw accurately and got it to the right guy. He put the ball in position for his player to make the play.”
However, with these statements coming after just one game for Newton, Warner was not ready to give Newton the title yet. He said, "I played against Ryan Leaf in his first preseason game. I remember that he [threw for] 200 yards in a half, threw for a couple touchdowns, and I think he ran for another. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Wow – this guy is the real deal – he has all the tools – this guy is going to be a superstar,’ and of course, we all know what happened."
Well, Warner, it appears Newton has turned out to be quite an effective pro; maybe he doesn't have as much work to do after all.