One of the worst things you can say about a college quarterback coming into the NFL is that he looks a lot like Akili Smith. Even Smith himself knows that.
So when Mel Kiper compared Cam Newton to Smith, Smith was gracious enough to come forward and say that in reality, Newton is better than he was.
“I was nowhere near the athlete that Cam is,” Smith told Bengals.com. “He’s an amazing runner with great moves. And we ran different offenses. I never ran the zone option. But I’ll always believe I had as good an arm as anybody.”
But even though Smith doesn’t think he and Newton are similar as players, he knows they might be similar as highly drafted quarterbacks. And he hopes that whatever team takes Newton does a better job of easing him into the NFL than the Bengals did when they selected him third overall in 1999. He also hopes Newton does a better job of focusing on football than Smith himself did.
“If they feel he’s a one-year wonder, then, please, let him break in behind a veteran,” Smith said. “I love his game. I think he’ll be a very good NFL quarterback. If he does what I didn’t do and not get caught up in the clubs and the entertainment thing and he does what he’s supposed to do in the offseason, he’ll be fine.”