Coming out of Auburn, 2011 No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton was billed in many circles as a run-first quarterback who played in a gimmicky college spread offense and would struggle to make NFL throws. After 16 games, Newton established himself as the most prolific rookie quarterback in league history.
And based on game film, as ESPN’s Ron Jaworski explained on SportsCenter Tuesday, Newton has the potential to develop into a truly special thrower of the football.
“No one is a great quarterback in the NFL because of the way they run,” Jaws explained. “… [Newton] played very well from the pocket. … What also stood out was Newton’s patience in the pocket. And his ability to sit on his back foot and cut it loose. He made seam throws that were firm and required arm strength, yet demanded touch.
“Newton hung in the pocket and delivered without flinching. He was very good in the eye of the storm. This kid is a big-time talent. He still needs more experience, but the traits are there to be a special passer.”
Jaws views Newton’s passing ability as the most critical aspect of his quarterbacking chops, but doesn’t dismiss Newton’s running ability. It’s particularly helpful on third downs and in the red zone.
“It starts with passing, but [Newton's] ability to break down a defense with his legs gives him an edge like few have ever had,” Jaworski said. “The read-option in the red zone is an added dimension that Newton brings. His speed is a decisive factor.
“One element I’ve talked about discussing Aaron Rodgers is the ability on third down to defeat man coverage by running. Newton gives you that same quality. That’s a real problem for a defense. It limits their coverage concepts.”
In daily SportsCenter segments produced by Greg Cosell of NFL Films, Jaworski is ranking the league’s top-30 quarterbacks. Cosell and Jaws have Newton ranked 15th, but Jaworski says there is potential for much more with experience.
“From a skill-set standpoint,” Jaws said, “Newton could easily rank higher than 15th on my big board. He’s a top-ten talent. He needs more snaps; one year is not enough. But I can’t wait to see him in a few months.”