ESPN’s Mel Kiper questions Cam Newton’s work ethic

Getty Images

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper held a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning, and echoed some of the same concerns about Auburn quarterback Cam Newton that were expressed in Pro Football Weekly draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki’s scathing scouting report.

Specifically, Kiper has major questions about Newton’s work ethic and ability to handle adversity.

“We know he loves to play the game of football,” said Kiper. “But this isn’t the NBA,” referring to the amount of study time required by NFL quarterbacks.

“Things came easy to Cam Newton (at Auburn). I hope he doesn’t think they’ll come easy in the NFL.” Kiper also wondered how Newton would deal with it when/if people begin calling him a bust.

Kiper’s questioning of Newton’s capability to handle adversity is surprising. Newton led Auburn to a BCS Championship and won the Heisman Trophy with a major college football scandal hanging over his head. And the direct subject of the scrutiny was Newton’s dad.

But the work ethic questions were also hinted at by Nawrocki, who criticized Newton for setting “bad examples,” punctuality, focus, and inability “to win a locker room.” Nawrocki called Newton unaccountable, unfocused, and even untrustworthy.

Comparisons of Newton to JaMarcus Russell have been unwarranted to this point; Newton is an in-shape, prototype athlete with a far more successful track record than Russell. Russell was fat, lacked drive, and addicted to drugs.

But if Newton has a work ethic similar to Russell’s, this link suddenly becomes much more viable.

58 responses to “ESPN’s Mel Kiper questions Cam Newton’s work ethic

  1. when you have to cheat on a test, steal a lap top, pronounce yourself an icon…..and whether you want to report it or not, CAM knew what his dad was doing….to say otherwise is ignorant…which from your stories, isnt all that surprising…..people have the right to question his work ethic.

  2. The only two coaches today that would make Newton good are Packers head coach McCarthy and Packers QB coach Tom Clements. Those two single-handedly made every part of Rodgers’ game, to be NFL winning QB textbook. Everything – Rodgers accuracy, check-downs, reading defenses, footwork in and out of the pocket, all the intangibles.

    All of Newton’s intangibles in those departments suck right now. They’re terrible. Unless he gets the coaching, mentoring and tutoring needed at the NFL level, Newton is a wasted draft pick.

  3. I’m thinking if he goes ‘bust’ because of character/work ethic issues, it will be along the lines of Ryan Leaf.

  4. ya Cam Newton really struggles with adversity…he only won the heisman and the national championship when he was dealing with the drama his dad created and he was even ruled ineligible at one point.

    Cam also really struggled with adversity when auburn was down 24-0 on the road to number 5 ranked Alabama…he only came back to score 4 td’s and win the game…

    ya he really has a tough time with adversity guys…..

  5. You’re either stupid or naive. You can’t compare Cam today – to JaMarkus today and say comparisons are unwarranted. The comparison in when JaMarkus was graduating…he wasn’t fat, he wasn’t addicted to drugs..he was an excellent athlete. with an excellent arm who had red flags.

    Cam – is an excellent athlete. with an excellent arm who has red flags. Thats the comparison….not comparing Cam to JM – years after JM became a bust.

    Thief, cheater, prima-donna – limited experience – all things to worry about when drafting that guy.

  6. Russel was not fat and out-of-shape until after the draft. Cam will show his true colors after he finds out how much money he will make.

  7. Here is the positive for newton lovers…
    and I hope like he ll I am wrong.

  8. I just want to make sure Kiper, Nowracki, McShay, Mayock have these same criticisms, skepticism, scrutiny, etc… of Andrew Luck for not coming out after his Jr. year when he would have been the clear cut No. 1 pick and instead return to college. His story already wreaks of Matt Lienart.

  9. How long before Warren Moon calls out Kiper for being racially motivated?

    I’m putting the over/under at 1 day.

  10. Quote from original post: “Nawrocki called Newton unaccountable, unfocused, and even untrustworthy.”

    I think “untrustworthy” is the most unquestionable of the adjectives Nawrocki used, so it’s odd that you’d say “even” before it.

  11. Playing while under NCAA investigation is not the type of adversity people question Newton being able to handle.

    There is a different adversity Newton never faced being a one year wonder at Auburn. He could do no wrong in the fan base’s eyes. There are probably countless babies named Cameron or Cam all over Alabama because of how well he played. So….what is he going to do if he throws 3 INTs in the first half? How is he going to handle a bad stretch where the fan base is booing him and calling for the backup?

    Thats what adversity people wonder about, and wonder about basically every one year QB since Akili Smith

  12. “Russell was fat, lacked drive, and addicted to drugs.”

    JaMarcus Russell is also filthy, stinkin’ rich.

    Easy to understand why the players feel they don’t get a fair shake from the slave master owners for all of their hard work and dedication… Not.

  13. Honestly, you have to wonder how much of this is overblown.

    There are some red flags with Newton’s past. But his athleticism and ability are undeniable.

    He could be brought along gradually like what was done for Young, Culpepper and McNair.

    If a team drafts him expecting immediate wins they may get mixed results.

  14. i never seen newton play one game so i am not saying he will be a bust but when u r that athletic its easy in high school and college. but unless u have mike vick athleticism and arm, it doesnt translate to the nfl very easy. if u dont work ur butt off in the film room and practicing every day to get better, u will b a bust. all college players know what to say, i will work hard to be the best blah blah blah. but few actually love the game enough and have the drive to do it.

  15. Stop it with the Cam Newton stories already, someone is still going to take a chance on the kid no matter what you guys post and the sad part about it is the example that is painted every time someone writes about him in a negative way. The overall assumption is that this kid is a liar, cheater, and a thief that has no work ethic, and he is a Heisman trophy winner, an All-American, and a National Championship winning QB. Cam Newton is the epitome of taking the easy way out and the only way for him to get a reality check is to get drafted high and have early disappointment to make him see that hard work and discipline are the only way to succeed in the NFL, if he mans up and takes the proper steps to be successful then what everyone says about him isn’t true, but if he goes the other way then who would be surprised.

  16. Carolina would be well-advised to trade some of Fox’s old favorites and later round draft picks to Denver for Orton, whom they seem inexplicably willing to consider dealing, and pass on another potential draft bust.

  17. Russell was fat, lacked drive, and addicted to drugs

    Everyone comes out of the woodwork after people becoming draft busts ,saying how obvious it was that they would inevitably become scrubs. All I heard about was Jamarcus Russel’s immense talent, size, and arm. He certainly was’t fat coming into the league he was 6’6 256 pounds running a 4.8. Nor did JRuss have any evidence coming into the league of drug addiction. Hindsight is 20/20 don’t act like an expert after the fact.Cough Cough everyone writing at PFT

  18. jimr10 says:
    Apr 6, 2011 2:14 PM
    does anyone actually pay attention to anything Mel Kipper says?

    I’ll go w/ his hair dresser, and the dolts that watch ESPN

  19. “does anyone actually pay attention to anything Mel Kipper says?”

    When he’s on during the draft I can’t seem to pay attention to anything but his plastic hair.

  20. Making unfair comparisons can only be done unless it involves Ryan Mallett apparently

  21. Newton takes shortcuts. In life and in sport. The main difference between he and Russell is that Russell was addicted to relaxants and Newt depends on performance enhancers.

  22. I just hope one of the first 5 teams drafting are dumb enough to draft Newton. That will ensure a stud falling to the Browns at #6

  23. “Kiper’s questioning of Newton’s capability to handle adversity is surprising. Newton led Auburn to a BCS Championship and won the Heisman Trophy with a major college football scandal hanging over his head. And the direct subject of the scrutiny was Newton’s dad”

    I don’t think that’s the kind of adversity Kiper was talking about. I think he’s talking about getting drafted by a terrible team, going 3-13 in his first year, getting brutalized by NFL defensive linemen, throwing more picks than TDs, and then having the stones to pick himself up and work hard to get better despite the fact that it won’t come easy. Nobody knows the answer to that so its definitely a question.

  24. tblitz25 says: Apr 6, 2011 2:15 PM

    I just want to make sure Kiper, Nowracki, McShay, Mayock have these same criticisms, skepticism, scrutiny, etc… of Andrew Luck for not coming out after his Jr. year when he would have been the clear cut No. 1 pick and instead return to college. His story already wreaks of Matt Lienart.

    And Sam Bradford….

  25. At the 3/4 pole in the Quarterback Derby, it looks like Newton’s Bad Apple leading by a hormonally enlarged jaw.

  26. Everything about the NFL is sickening right now. As far as mike kipper or whatever the heck his name is, he is adding his name to this list in case Nawrocki is right. kipper later will say he said it first. What a blow hard.

  27. I think that Warren Moon was over the top with his indication that criticism aimed at Cam Newton is racially charged. That said, This has to be the most scrutinized player I can remember in recent draft history. If you want to bag on him for his issues off the field as far as the alleged pay for play scandal and stolen laptops thats fine but as a football player he has done nothing to make people doubt him. He won a National Championship while everyone dragged him through the mud in the media, He has great size, arm strength and can create outside of the pocket. He can seem a little disingenuous at times and maybe egotistical but he WANTS TO WIN. He WANTS to be great. Those are some qualities you want in a franchise QB and I think with all of the crap he has had to deal with and how he has handled it, he deserves to be the #1 pick and I hope he really shines as well.

  28. Being dumb enough to insulate yourself from media attention over your father trying to bribe your services while running a simple one-read, offensive system is different than being the face of an NFL, learning a complicated playbook and answering to beat writers and fans week-to-week when you lose.

    The “adversity” is completely different and anyone that tries to tell you he’s been through tough times already doesn’t have a clue.

  29. Something about Newton’s attitude just rubs me the wrong way. Thats just one of his many question marks though. On another note and mabey its just me but if I was an NFL GM I would never ever draft a spread offense QB. That fact alone would totally turn me off on a QB.

  30. You are what your record says you are. If he can’t be trusted to do the right thing in every situation there is no way to justify giving him the keys to a multimillion dollar operation such as an NFL team. Overlooking things like that is what ruins NFL teams.

  31. This is the same guy who said Jay Cutler was okay and was going to be worse than Matt Leinart. Leinart (the man Kiper said was the next Ken Stabler) is now 3rd string in Houston while Cutler starts for the NFC Title Game runner up Bears!!!

    Kiper … just do what you’re normally good at; getting too close with a few agents and pander inappropriately and excessively about their overrated clients.

    Stay away from criticizing players because the ones who got ripped on too much (i.e. Percy Harvin, Warren Sapp, Dez Bryant, and Maurice Jones-Drew) actually play fine as they respond to their doubters. That’s rarely getting talked about at this time of year when it should!!!

    You’re not a draft expert, Kiper!!!

    You’re a used car salesman!!!

  32. I wish Andrew Luck was coming out for this years draft. If he had, we wouldn’t have to read all this crap about Cam Newton.

    It must suck for the “icon” to realize that the only reason he is relevant is because Andrew Luck decided not to come out this year.

  33. Just because Mel Kiper knows more draft info than the “typical viewer” it doesn’t make him an expert.

    It makes the “typical viewer” stupid and too lazy to Google any info that beats Kiper’s in a credibility test any day of the week!!!

  34. JaMarcus Russell’s legacy is that he perpetuated the myth of the “Black Quarterback” being stupid, lazy, and untrustworthy.This is what has Warren Moon in an uproar,the negative perception of the prospect because of race.Al Davis has ALWAYS gone to bat for the African American athletes and coaches, and Russell stabbed him and the Raider Nation in the back.Let’s see how Newton and Gabbert look in 5 years LOL.

  35. Kiper’s questioning of Newton’s capability to handle adversity is surprising. Newton led Auburn to a BCS Championship and won the Heisman Trophy with a major college football scandal hanging over his head. And the direct subject of the scrutiny was Newton’s dad.

    So what? What kind of pressure did that put on Cam Newton?

    Was he in danger of going to jail? No.

    Was he in danger of not getting drafted? No.

    Was he in danger of getting kicked out of school? I have a hard time believing he cared about that.

    If he winds up getting stripped of his Heisman and Auburn loses it’s title, so what?

    Did it hurt Reggie Bush?

    20 years from now, if someone asks who won the Heisman in 2005, people will say Reggie Bush.

    When someone asks who won the 2004 National Championship, everyone will say USC and not remember that the football writers stripped them of the title.

    Same thing will happen here. The NCAA can do whatever it wants if their ongoing investigation reveals that Newton knew about the money.

    He will be long gone to the NFL and everyone will always remember him as the Heisman winner and Auburn as National Champion.

    So again, what, exactly, is all of this adversity he so bravely handled?

  36. You know I have never been a fan of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas because, Well, he’s a lost, sellout, Uncle Thom’as! But there is a term that he thrust into the American lexicon years ago at his judicial hearing that applies to this years treatment of Cam Newton; ‘High Tech Lynching’


  37. Don’t know that I would compare him to JaMarcus Russell. But Vince Young – yeah, maybe.

  38. Hmm….

    Is Mel Kiper making an honest assessment of Cam Newton based on interviews with teammates and coaches? Or is Mel Kiper just looking for controversial topics that give him a leg up in the silly, manufactured ‘competition’ he has with Todd McShay?

    With the analysts thinking they’re bigger stars than the athletes, it’s hard to tell if anyone has actual insight these days.

  39. “Russell was fat, lacked drive, and addicted to drugs”

    You better be able to prove the truth of those allegations prior to Russell’s draft. It’s really easy to pile on Russell with hindsight accusations that didn’t exist at the time he was drafted.

  40. To be honest. Who really cares. These top picks are not going to get the crazy money any more. Teams won’t be on the hook for big contracts and signing bonus money, they’ll just move on.

  41. Evan,

    How many teammates and coaches need to comment on the guys work ethic and mentality before people stop constantly questioning it?

    I remember when he arrived on campus reading the reports of him being the first and last on the field, and having extra throwing sessions with teammates.

  42. “……..“We know he loves to play the game of football,” said Kiper. “But this isn’t the NBA,” referring to the amount of study time required by NFL quarterbacks…….”

    WTF does that mean? What is he implying here? Yo Mel are you saying all ‘THOSE PEOPLE’ in the NBA just show up 5mins before game time and just freelance a pickup game like they do down in the Ghetto?!?

    Or are you saying that those same people that tend to dominate in the NBA are innately lazy, lack work ethic and the intelligence and will to prepare; therefore because Newton is one of These People he must be lazy, lack work ethic etc…etc..?!

    Mel!! Phone for you. It’s Kevin Garnett, Kobe, Darren Williams, Grant Hill, Kevin Durant, Steve Nash is on the line….and even he is pissed at you….


  43. How many times do we have to see the same red flags around the same type of player before we take notice? This guy is going to be a bust. Give me a break. Million dollar arm and 5 cent brain.

  44. Has PFT gone “politically correct” Warren Moon can bash the white race and make headlines I bash Cam Newton about race and work ethics and get deleted COME ON NOW!!

  45. I would like to know what Cam did that made Mel Kiper question his work ethic. Also, I would like to know why only Cam’s work ethic is being questioned?

  46. yep it takes great work ethic to get in a brawl in a bathroom like Gabbert. Yep all you need is talent and no work ethic to play in the NBA. And people wonder why African Americans think everything is racially motivated. Wow

  47. Stop it. Cam Newton did NOT win the national championship. Auburn won and with a very dominant defense.

    History shows that Heisman winners are not nearly the best football players. Many are busts at the next level because their flaws, hidden in college, are grossly exposed when you’re not surrounded by superior talent at your school which invariably cheated to get talent. Cam may or may not be good at the next level, but let’s not get carried away annoiting him a sure thing or that he overcame some adversity (when he was protected at Auburn) when his TEAM won.

  48. The one read spread is not a good benchmark for future NFL success. This dude will actually have to learn to read a D and make the appropriate adjustments on the fly (both calling out blocking adjustments and route adjustments) – inside of about 1.5 seconds. To do that you have to study – a lot!

    With the amount of money on the line and the likelihood of the impact (+ and -) on a franchise for many years, you better question someone’s work ethic – especially if their stated goal is to be an “entertainment icon” instead of a football player.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.