Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn is lashing out at critics of Cam Newton, saying that the Heisman Trophy winner has what it takes to be a great NFL quarterback.
Responding in particular to draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki’s harsh assessment of Newton, Malzahn said this morning on ESPN Radio that Newton has a great work ethic and is a tremendous team leader.
“He was a joy to coach,” Malzahn said. “You know what he did on the field, but off the field he’s an even better person.”
Malzahn praised Newton’s leadership abilities as well.
“He’s a great leader,” Malzahn said. “He’s the best I’ve ever seen in the locker room.”
Of course, there are a number of draft analysts who say Newton’s problems are more about the fundamental questions of whether Newton can succeed as a pro-style pocket passer. And those questions largely revolve around Malzahn’s spread offense, which had Newton line up in the shotgun on every snap and may not have prepared him to play quarterback in the NFL. Malzahn dismisses that criticism.
“I hear stuff about our offense being spread,” Malzahn said. “A lot of our concepts are the same concepts that he’s going to run at the next level. . . . He can make every throw, he’s a great decision maker, he sees the field very well.”
So the coach whose offense was run to near-perfection by Newton last year is a big fan of Newton’s. That’s no surprise. The question now is whether NFL coaches will think Newton can run their offenses as well as he ran Malzahn’s.