In 2010 Tim Tebow was the NFL draft prospect who sparked the biggest disagreements, with some observers saying he was a future franchise quarterback and others saying he couldn’t play quarterback in the NFL at all. This year Cam Newton appears destined to be the subject of the same types of discussions.
Albert Breer of NFL Network has a good report on Newton based on conversations with NFL personnel people who agree that Newton is athletically superior and a more natural passer than Tebow, but who say questions remain about what kind of pro quarterback Newton will be.
The biggest question centers on whether Newton’s skills in the spread attack used at Auburn will translate to an NFL offense.
“The structure of that offense made him look more accurate than he is,” one scout told Breer. “It’s all play-action based, throwing to wide open receivers, with bubble screens that pad his numbers. He gets so much respect because of his athletic ability.”
That athletic ability is considerable. Newton finished his one and only season at Auburn with 264 carries for 1,473 yards and 20 touchdowns. For a comparison, in two years at Virginia Tech, Michael Vick totaled 223 carries for 1,216 yards and 17 touchdowns.
But is a quarterback whose running abilities are such an important part of his skill set the kind of quarterback an NFL franchise will want to build around?
“If you need a quarterback, no, he’s not Tom Brady or Peyton Manning,” one executive said. “But in the other genre — the big, running quarterback, and a winner — he’s pretty good. And if you’re Carolina [which has the top overall pick], you’re gonna have to take a look.”
Carolina will surely take a long look over the next three months.