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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cam Newton Scouting Report

Cam Newton, Auburn, 6'6 250 lbs


Size/Arm Strength: 10 Excellent size (6'6 250 lbs) along with a cannon of an arm. Cam Newton can make every single throw on the football field.

Accuracy: 7.75 – Better accuracy than he gets credit for, Newton completed 66.1% of his passes. Only one QB in FBS had a better passer rating (Kellen Moore- 182.6), as  Newton posted a 182.0 passer rating. Beyond the statistics is what hinders Newton however; the offensive scheme was very rudimentary and basic at its' core in passing reads. What I mean by this is that he rarely was counted upon to look past his primary receiver, because defenses were stacking and loading the box in order to contain his running ability. His rapid release, ability to escape pressure, and extremely powerful arm strength, masked the relatively simple passing game that did not force Cam Newton to go through a thick passing progression. 

While he fits the football in tight windows, he sometimes gets into trouble with his ball placement across the middle; will get excited and footwork is poor, leading to overthrows. His accuracy is inconsistent due to his footwork and technique. His potential will flash on throws deep and outside the numbers (pro-level throws), and his upside is very evident even to the common fan.

Former Oilers QB, Warren Moon
Warren Moon, who has also been a major part of the development of Cam Newton during the Pre-Draft season, stated Cam's specific problem regarding his lower half, 

    "He wasn't transferring well," Moon said afterward. "He was throwing leaning backward. Even though he has a very strong arm, I don't care how strong of an arm you have, if you're not in the right throwing motion, you're not going to get good accuracy on the football, the ball is going to go high on you. As soon as he gets that weight transferred, he throws the ball as accurately as anyone you've been around."

With that being said, understanding Cam's raw ability, his potential, and Hall of Fame QB help, I have to give him a somewhat high rating on accuracy.

Throwing Mechanics/Footwork: 6.25 – The only reason I give this high of a grade, is that Newton's throwing mechanics need no work. He has no wind-up in his delivery, his release is consistent, and the ball absolutely fires out of his hand. His release point isn't at an awkward angle, it's fluid and over the top, and the ball comes out quickly. 

The biggest problem I have with Cam Newton is his footwork. This is the main area for improvement. Cam has always gotten by on athletic and God-given talent his entire football career. Even in the toughest conference of College football (the SEC), Newton was able to get away with bad footwork. 

First off he worked out of a spread offense, and as Cam himself said, "A lot of times I probably can count on one hand the times I took a snap from under center in one game." But he understands where he needs to be, "But now it depends what scheme you go into, but at the same time you have to be able to get a snap from under center and be fluent at it. That's one of the first things we tried to tackle."

Secondly, rather than reaching the end of his pass drops, planting his back foot, shifting his weight forward, and delivering an accurate ball, Cam Newton reached the end of his pass drop, hopped around, and threw the ball downfield by torquing his hips and waist. He didn't do a particularly good job of always setting his feet and shifting his weight forward, this is something, as mentioned by Warren Moon that he needs to gain consistency in doing. His base on film is inconsistent in that his feet are too close together. On a quick note however, his base looked very solid (much wider) in his media workout.

And in saying this, I will be the first to recommend watching Newton's media-workout, and the tremendous strides he has made thus far. Once again, upside is there, and its obvious that potential is there, consistency in footwork/technique and accuracy are the biggest questions. 

Mobility/Athleticism: 10 The one player in the draft whose athleticism will literally jump off the screen. At 6'6 250 lbs, Cam Newton looks like a defensive end, moves like a running back, and throws as well as anyone in the country. One of only 2 quarterbacks ever to throw for 30 touchdowns and run for 20 touchdowns, Cam Newton bullied through opponents on his way to more than 1400 yards rushing. I would not be surprised if Cam runs in the 4.4-4.5 range in the 40 yard dash. 

The reason for Newton's success running the ball, is his natural field vision as a runner, and his ability to anticipate his defenders momentum. He smoothly weaves his way in and out of traffic, constantly seeming in full control of his surroundings. Beyond this field vision, he also has the burst and explosiveness to just burn his opponents once he finds his path. All in all a dynamic athlete who has natural running ability.


Best fit: Newton needs to be in an offense with a strong running game, and needs a coaching staff that tailors the offense to suit Newton's mobility and athleticism. 

Could C.J. Spiller catch passes from Cam Newton in 2011?
The first place I think Newton could go, is Buffalo, where Chan Gailey is known for being a unique offensive coordinator who craves game changing, dynamic playmakers in his offense. Cam Newton, C.J. Spiller, and Stevie Johnson could combine for a nice, young, and talented trio of offensive playmakers with which the Bills could build around for the future. 

The next best fits would be the Cardinals, the Titans, or the 49ers. All three teams have young weapons at RB and WR, and all three teams are in need of a franchise quarterbacks. 

With the recent coaching changes in Tennessee and San Francisco, I'm not sure if either team will be willing to hand the reigns to a raw and developing rookie like Cam Newton. 

And in Arizona, I'm hearing trade rumors swirling about Kevin Kolb, Marc Bulger, and even Kyle Orton, so maybe Ken Whisenhunt (Head coach of AZ) wants to bring in a QB with experience and allow John Skelton to develop. 

The Cards, Titans, and 49ers all are fluent situations regarding personnel and coaching staff changes, therefore I feel the Bills have the best foundation in which to add Cam Newton through the draft.

X-Factor: What are teams going to find out about his character, integrity, and past? Will Newton's past mistakes (Florida cheating, father's solicitation for a "Pay-to-Play" plan, and stolen laptop) force teams to pass on him in the 2011 Draft? Can he convince NFL teams, through interviews that he is a changed human being and has learned his lesson? Or will he portray a "Me" attitude that pushes teams away. How teams view his character will go a long way in where Cam Newton will be drafted. 

Another big factor, in my opinion, is Newton's ability to overcome adversity, and how teams view that as well. Facing the most scrutiny ever faced by a college football player in 2010, Newton forged one of the most memorable single season performances ever in FBS history. Newton dominated his opponents inside the toughest conference in the nation, willed his team to comeback victories all season long, notched a perfect season, won a Heisman trophy, and won a National title despite the controversies surrounding him throughout. His ability to shut out surrounding media and maintain focus on the football field, should tell NFL teams that Newton's fortitude is unshakeable and he wins no matter what happens off the field.

Where he will be picked: Top 5. I am hard pressed to say that Newton will not be drafted after the Top 5 picks in the 2011 Draft. His raw talent, ability to overcome adversity, and willingness to put in the necessary work to improve his technique should convince teams of his upside, strong will and work ethic. There's a difference between work ethic and character issues, and the media is beginning to mix the two. I agree that he has legitimate character issues but to question his work ethic is something I refuse to do. Newton's improvement as a passer from the poor Clemson game, to the blowout SEC championship, should exemplify his in season work and commitment to excellence. 

Where he should be pickedTop 5. His actual draft stock should correlate respectively to his on field play. Would benefit from a draft day slide to a more talented team, but I could see him be a game changer as early as his rookie season.

NFL Comparison: Daunte Culpepper, former Minnesota Viking, Oakland Raider, and Detroit Lion. Currently starting QB for UFL Sacramento Mountain Lions

Cam Newton 2010-2011 highlight video

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