Cam Newton was the first overall pick by the Carolina Panthers in the 2011 draft and was the likely pick, but by no means a no brainer. Newton had led Auburn to a national championship, but was not without his doubters. There were many talking of a scandal with his dad and Auburn, and an investigation went on during the season. However following the investigation nothing was found and the allegations were dropped, but Cam dealt with that during his Heisman season.
Cam started his college career at Florida, as the back-up for then Heisman winner Tim Tebow. The controvery started as he was arrested on campus for receiving stolen property (a laptop), but later cleared as completed a pre-trial diversion program. The Newton announced his plan to leave Florida and transfer to Blinn College where he went on to be an All American and the most recruited Juco (Junior College) quarterback in the country. He ended up signing with Auburn and the rest of his college career is history.
When Carolina took Newton first overall, they were in desperate need of a franchise quarterback. However, as Newton played in a spread system at Auburn people questioned his ability to play in a pro-style system. During the evaluation process, Cam showed incredible measurables at the NFL Combine posting: 4.59s 40 Yard Dash, 4.18s Short Shuttle, 10’8″ Broad Jump, 35″ Vertical Jump at 6’5″ and 248lbs (lean). The forty yard dash shows good long speed for a quarterback, but not exceptional speed. However if you watch film on Cam you notice that no one ever catches him from behind so he has faster game speed than timed speed, you also have consider his speed for how large a player he is. Both the vertical jump and broad jump show incredible power and explosiveness, rare in a quarterback and especially a larger quarterback.
As a thrower, Newton had a sub-par performance at the combine. However for a quarterback the pro-day is a chance for redemption and to show improvement, which Newton did. Mike Mayock said that he was “spread quarterback, way behind as far as footwork, have a long way to go and gifted kid athletically”. He said that you would have to buy into his work ethic to make the improvements. Mayock compared Blaine Gabbert to Cam Newton, as they were both gifted athletic players with big arms. Newton was a vocal leader on his team and a physically imposing figure who can make plays with his arms and legs. He had the most upside of any prospect in the draft and the opportunity to be a franchise quarterback.
Once the Carolina Panthers were interested in drafting Newton and their owner, Jerry Richardson had a very interesting conversation and Richardson made a request of Newton. Cam did not have any tattoos or piercings and had a clean cut look. Richardson requested that if the Panthers draft Cam first overall, that he keep the same clean cut look. This was an unprecedented request, but Cam had bought in to the panthers and agreed. This question, was not only a request but also part of the evaluation and showed that Newton’s priority was football and he was willing to put in the work and commit to the Panthers.
Newton would go on to have a historic rookie season. He set the all-time passing yards record for a rookie, with less attempts than Payton Manning (the previous record holder). Newton also broke the all-time quarterback record for rushing touchdowns (14). This combination shows the uniqueness of Cam Newton, a developing passer with good decision making and immediately becoming the best red-zone threat in the NFL (as a quarterback). Cam Newton was named NFL Rookie of The Year, NFL Offensive Player of The Year and received a pro bowl invitation.
Newton’s raw talent was definitely a significant reason for his early success, but you also have to credit Carolina for putting him in a position to be successful and play to his strengths. In his rookie year Newton had two talented running backs, Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams (who has had a resurgence this year in Pittsburgh). Both running backs rushed for over 750 yards and when combined with Newton, Carolina had over 2,000 yards rushing and 25 rushing touchdowns. This is what allowed him to be successful in the passing game and utilize play action passes. Carolina also incorporated elements of the spread into their offense in order to make the transition easier for Newton. In the passing game, he had a reliable weapon at wide receiver in Steve Smith who had over 1,300 yards receiving and 7 touchdowns. Most importantly, Steve Smith made things easier for Newton in providing yards after the catch and making contested catches. Newton also had two solid tight ends in Greg Olsen and Jeremy Shockey, which allowed him to make the easy throw with confidence and not feel pressure to push the ball downfield. Overall, Carolina must get credit for creating a situation where Newton could come in right away and be successful. They didn’t put too much on Newton in his rookie season, which prevented him from developing bad habits for the sake of trying to win.
Cam Newton has steadily improved over the early years of his career and has not since his rookie year had as much talent around him. This year, Newton has lead Carolina to a 13-0 record and done it with little talent around hime (relatively speaking). He is the leader in the MVP race and has taken his game to the next level, showing continued development in the passing game.
He credits his father for instilling an incredible work ethic, even as a kid he spent most days developing his craft. At an early age, Newton had an insatiable love for the game of football and showed early on to be a leader of men on the field. Newton continues to have that same love of the game and it is evidenced through his jovial attitude on and off the field, if you look at photos of Cam Newton in game you will often see his unforgettable smile.
Newton is the future of the quarterback position because his is a dual threat quarterback, he can beat you with his arm or his legs. Opponents are scared to rush or pressure him too much because they know he has escape ability and is a threat to score as a runner anywhere on the field. As a passer, Newton has improved every year and can thread the need on intermediate routes and has a huge arm and the ability to take shots down the field. Opponents will continue to have a difficult time preparing for Cam Newton and his dual threat ability, but they can be thankful that there aren’t other 6’5″ quarterbacks with his passing and running ability. People thought Andrew Luck was going to be similiar with his ability to push the ball down the field and athleticism, but he has not yet shown progression year to year (especially this year). What makes Newton unique is his size, he is as big as Ben Roethlisberger and as mobile as smaller quarterbacks like Robert Griffin (in his rookie year), Randall Cunningham, and Donovan McNabb. Teams will be looking for quarterbacks that resemble Newton in the upcoming draft, but there aren’t many of them as he is an anomaly among quarterbacks.
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