Everyone knows that Cam Newton can run, but is he an elite talent in the draft? Most don't believe so but Mike thinks that it is closer than you think

From an experience standpoint, an accuracy standpoint, a mechanics standpoint, and a character standpoint Cam Newton is not an elite prospect. Newton’s ability to run is overrated compared to how the NFL defenses play. He also has some tendencies that are parallel to those of Ryan Leaf and JaMarcus Russell, which are not good things. But in a strange, way I love Cameron Newton as a prospect.

Maybe it is the fact that Michael Vick SHOULD have won the MVP this year. Maybe it’s that the Super Bowl a month ago was played between two mobile quarterback. Maybe it is the fact that the top three quarterbacks in the draft are all mobile, strong armed and filled with potential. But most of all maybe it is because there isn’t a great “best” player in the draft that I think should go 1st overall.

On November 30th I released my first mock draft on this website and the first overall pick was Cam Newton, not Andrew Luck. I had a little bit of a gut feeling that Luck would stay in school, but even if he had come out I wasn’t sold completely on Luck going 1st overall. Newton’s success at the time, potential to continue winning the championship and his complete frame of work could have beaten Luck out for the 1st pick. As far as I know this is the first website to ever Mock Newton even in the top-5, let alone the 1st overall and now there are a ton of people that are comfortable with him being in the top-5. So in a strange way I feel like it is my destiny to defend Cam Newton as a prospect, and the more I think about it the easier it becomes.

Myth 1: Cam Newton Does Not Have a lot of Playing Experience

To say it simply this is true. Newton only has one season of starting experience in D-1 football. But to say that he doesn’t have experience is ridiculous. Newton committed to Florida and got a few snaps in both is freshman and sophomore seasons, but the important thing to understand is that he got experience behind Tim Tebow while learning and developing.

He transferred to Blinn Junior College for his RS Sophomore season where he threw for 2,833 yards and 22 TD’s while leading his team to the NJCAA Championship. He would transfer to Auburn University where he played and won 14-games on an SEC schedule in route to the NCAA Championship with 2,854 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, a 66% completion rate, 10.2 YPA and only 7 interceptions. To say that he doesn’t have experience isn’t fair. Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, and Sam Bradford all had two real actual full seasons (Locker a little more), and Newton won two different championships in his time.

Myth 2: Cam Newton Isn’t Accurate

This is one of the harder bits to swallow. Jake Locker isn’t accurate, Blaine Gabbert isn’t accurate (given the short routes he ran), but Newton is accurate. Newton can hit any throw in the world, and he has a very good short and intermediate accuracy, and his deep accuracy is decent. With a 66% completion rate in 2010 it is completely unfair to say that he isn’t accurate. He also only threw seven interceptions this season, so to say that his passes are throw sloppily also isn’t fair given that his decision making skills are fairly solid.

He does however have a problem with consistency. He often does overthrow a target going deep, and he does need to clean up his ball spotting. He is training right now with George Whitfield who is helping to clean up his technique. I recently interviewed Justin Roper, QB from Montana who is working along with Newton and Whitfield. Roper told me that one of the things that he has noticed already is that his accuracy and his deep ball is much, much cleaner.

Myth 3: Cam Newton’s Mechanics are Awful

This one is only partially true. The truth is that this last season Newton had a very sloppy drop back motion which started from the offense he was running in. He would then throw off of his back foot and the ball release point was sloppy. That is the truth. But the fact that he was actually accurate, got a strong ball to come out, and on track means that any adjustment to his throwing motion is pure upside.

Again, Newton is learning from one of the best QB coaches out there right now and if you saw his public workout recently then you would have seen that many of his issues have been cleanly adjusted. He still needs to work out with his throwing issues, but given the comparisons to Tim Tebow and Vince Young it is unfair to note the fact that his throwing motions, placement, and footwork are leaps and bounds better than them.

Myth 4: Cam Newton has Character Concerns

This again is one that needs to be cleared up. Newton was accused of stealing a laptop in 2008, left Florida reportedly because of academically cheating. We all know about the $180,000 solicitation request from this season, and recently Newton’s comments have come under some scrutiny because of his swagger and over-confidence.

I honestly cannot say anything about the issues at Florida. He technically had the charges dropped, and the academic issues were reported by Fox Sports, but I haven’t heard much else from it. The $180,000 solicitation was found to have been just from Newton’s father, but even if it was orchestrated by Newton I wouldn’t hold it much more than what many prospects that receiver huge gifts from agents did like Robert Quinn. 

As for the recent occurrence from Newton’s swagger, they were two different comments from different interviewees that were stuck together out of context. Newton said that he was an entertainer in regards to his sponsorship deal with Under Armour. The contract which is over a million a year is a sign that his concerns are not as significant as many believe. Under Armour has teams (note the plural) of divisions for talent and sponsorship evaluation and they would not have offered Newton a deal like this unless they thought his issues were minor. Just ask Michael Vick and Tiger Woods how many million dollar a year sponsorships they are getting right now and Newton won’t be an issue.

Myth 5: Cam Newton Played in a Goofy Offense

This is such a dumb argument. Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Blaine Gabbert, and Colt McCoy all played in the spread. Late rising QB Colin Kaepernick played in about the goofiest offense in football. Ryan Mallett played in an offense where it seemed like 2/3 of his throws were on a bootleg. Jake Locker started in the spread offense and might not be 100% out of it. The fact is that in today’s day and age there are more quarterbacks from the spread, and teams know how to sort through it.

Myth 6: His mobility Means Nothing for the Pro Game

This is half true. Newton cannot expect to run for 16 touchdowns each year, and nobody will. He is a great runner and he can make moves, and he will be expected to makes moves when he can or when he needs to. He has a top notch pocket presence and he needs to find out how to properly use it in the NFL.

When you look at Cam Newton on paper you may see just a very athletic quarterback without much experience who has some flaws that won’t let his succeed. I personally see all of his flaws are either over-criticisms or issues that have been blown out of proportion. Newton has the most potential in a QB that we have possibly ever seen and he has the confidence and winning potential that teams love. Some will see him as a criminal, as an athlete, or as the next Vince Young, but I see him as his own prospect. Newton right now is a cleaner quarterback than Tim Tebow, Vince Young, or JaMarcus Russell ever have been, and I love him as a prospect in this draft.