Gridiron Gab 2011 NFL Draft Prospect Scouting Report – QB Cam Newton

Cam Newton, QB, Auburn, 6’6 250

Position Ranking: #4

Strengths: Has an amazing combination of height and athleticism for the position. Very good arm strength and can make the deep out, and deep corner throw. A high release point in his upper body mechanics allows him to maintain good spin on his layered passing; throws a tight ball short, intermediate, and deep. Flashes good accuracy between the numbers on intermediate routes from the pocket. Can make accurate throws off balance and on the move. A dangerous threat to run, has great buildup speed and can glide when he breaks towards the sideline. Impressive balance in space when transitioning on the run for his 6’6 frame. Speed is deceptive and can be misjudged; one missed assignment and Newton goes the distance.

Needs Improvement: Pocket instincts are below adequate. Doesn’t feel the backside defender or show an awareness to the timing of the defensive rush. Lower body mechanics are very raw, won’t stride into most of his throws, keeps feet close together and whips his throws with his shoulder. Accuracy is off/on especially deep when throwing outside the numbers due to poor lower body mechanics. Wasn’t asked to go through coverage reads or a full progressions in a spread option offense at Auburn.

Needs to see an open receiver and has very little anticipation. Field vision is not wide angle despite size and doesn’t seem to see the entire field clearly. Will wait for his primary target to open up and rarely turns his head from left to right.

Most of his accurate throws were a result of wide open coverage windows and plenty of time in the pocket. Can be tackled by much smaller defenders as Newton is not a physical runner and seems to shy away from square contact in space. No more than a handful of snaps were taken from under center in his career and wasn’t asked to settle his feet, look over the coverage, and find an open receiver. Only started 13 games in the NCAA. Legal and academic troubles forced him to transfer from the University of Florida. His father was involved with a pay-for-play agreement for Newton’s services.

Bottom Line: There is no denying Cam Newton’s immense physical talents. He was the best player in college football this past season and has both the Heisman Trophy and a national championship to show for it. The concerns that teams will have leading up to the draft are obvious on some levels (spread option system, only one full year of experience) but other concerns will show up more clearly during progressive game study. My greatest concern about Newton isn’t the system, or even his character concerns, but his lack of instincts/awareness in the pocket and his pre-snap recognition or rather, his lack of pre-snap recognition. Newton was never asked to read coverage at Auburn, he simply ran the play. Since Newton wasn’t asked to make pre-snap adjustments or even post-snap adjustments in his zone read offense, it makes the mental transition less clear in evaluating him.

Without question Cam has the physical ability be successful and with NFL coaching he’ll be able to improve his lower body mechanics. But with only one full year of experience there is no telling how Newton would perform against teams with a season’s worth of film at their availability and maintain his success at the college level. Because of this I feel that Newton isn’t the prospect Vince Young or Tim Tebow were- two somewhat similar players- as they had a minimum of two full years of experience.

Overall, when evaluating quarterbacks, I’m less concerned with their athletic ability and more concerned with how well they understand coverage, pre and post-snap, as well as their ability to make intuitive and timely throws inside the pocket. These characteristics are not strengths that Newton currently possesses, so my ranking will likely be less high for him than many others. I grade him as a late second round, early third round pick but project him to go sooner.

Draft Projection: Mid 1st to early 2nd round.

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5 Responses to “Gridiron Gab 2011 NFL Draft Prospect Scouting Report – QB Cam Newton”

  1. J Football says:

    I guess you should spend more time watching college football than the NFL if you are going to judge college talent. Maybe you should watch a little you tube.

    Most of your positives were on. But you act like you have only made assumptions based on not seeing him play.

    Your negatives couldn’t be more wrong.

    I’ll address them. Backsice pressure? Just watch the play where a Woodson type DB rushes from the end, Newton feels it, drops back deep around the end and pops a long pass for a touchdown. Don’t forget how he somehow makes it out of pocket jams for long runs. I guess there is not “feel” there. Body mechanics? Body Mechanics? are you quotiing T-Bow articles. He has better mechanics than the QB that just won the superbowl and can make the same throws. By the way, in the positives you mentioned tight spirals on ALL short, medium, and long throws. Accuracy on long throws? He hits all of his recievers in stride. In the BCS NC game, he threw a dart down the sideline that the reciever should have caught, in the hands, that likely could have gone for 6. Coverage reads? You don’t know jack. In the SEC Championship game, he hit his 4th read for a touchdown. He does not only throw to his primary target, as you say. You don’t watch the games. He frequently spreads the ball all over the field, hitting 2nd, 3rd, and even 4th recievers. He see’s both sides of the field, just watch his head as he pans the field. He hits back side recievers, ala Lutzenkirchen for a TD several times. Throws against wide open coverages? my butt. Just ask Alabama how he converted a 4th and 3 by creating an open reciever with a bullet of a throw. Ask Arkansas how he threw a bullet 15 yards down field before the reciever even made a move. There is no way to defend that, come up, get burned deep, fall back, give up the short throw, in between that, and Newton hit the 15 yard bullet. His recievers were open on every play because of Newton’s ability. These were NFL type DBs he was up against. Can be tackled by smaller defender??? Are you kinding me?? Name one… just one. That right there shows that you don’t watch games. Shy’s from contact??? are you kidding?? He ran over, over the top of Linebackers from Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, etc. for TD’s in several games. Do you not watch. Avoids contact in space??? No one can touch him they can’t initiate the contact. Good for Newton, bad for them. Settle his feet? No, he just sat in the pocket for 10 seconds against USC in the SEC championship game as he chopped his feet and looked over coverages, not even tempting himself to run. Experience, played at UF. Won a National Championship at Blinn. Won a BCS National Championship. When is the last time an individual won 2 National Championships in a row as QB ??? You don’t know jack. The onlyone lacking experience is YOU as a draft analyst and writer. DORK!!!

    • Abraham says:

      Thanks for the input.

      I watched almost every game that Newton played this season, I may have missed a few snaps here or there, but the write-up is a summary based on Newton’s entire body of work as I saw it. What Newton showed game to game and week to week. Not a few plays in a few games or a highlight reel.

      For me, it’s what a player shows 6 out of 10 times under the same conditions that determine whether he can do something. Every player with talent can show you something once or twice, but what we want is consistency- game to game and season to season.

      On experience:

      Newton didn’t start any games at Florida, he then played at Blinn College, I don’t know of any other player in Division 1 football who played at Blinn College. Do you? Newton has only started 13 games. How do we know how he would play the same team with film on him?

      On Mechanics:

      Tebow’s mechanical problems are completely different than Newton. Newton has trouble with his stride and opening up his hips, engaging power from his core and throwing with balance. Tebow’s troubles were his upper body, his launch point, release quickness, ball height, and the overextension of his arm- all of which Tebow has done better since he was drafted.

      Newton’s mechanics can improve with time and coaching. But if you look at 100 snaps of Cam Newton based on what’s on tape now, roughly 70 out of 100 snaps will show him throwing the football with his feet close together or seperated by less than 8 inches, with little or no bend in his knee, which effects accuracy and ball velocity- he’s an arm thrower.

      As far as the system goes, I don’t want to take the time to break down the particulars but if you do some research you’ll find that Gus Mahlzan’s system was developed in high school at Arkansas. It’s a zone read offense, with almost every snap taken away from center, with misdirection plays, no route combinations or pre-snap adjustments by the quarterback.

      You seem really interested in the evaluation process, let me recommend the material that has helped me to understand professional evaluation concepts better. Evaluation isn’t a science, and nobody is always right, but you can learn from those who’ve been there and done that.

      Football Scouting Methods by Steve Belichick

      The Packer Way by Ron Wolf

      The G.M. by Ernie Accorsi

      Secrets of an NFL Scout by Tony Razzano

      The Draft by Pete Williams

      Next Man Up by John Feinstein

      The Blueprint by Christopher Price

      Football Physics by Timothy Gay

      101 Concepts For Effective Offense by Steve Axman

      Football’s West Coast Offense by Frank Henderson

      101 4-3 Stunts and 101 3-4 Stunts by Leo Hand

      Eagle & Stack Defenses by Ron Vanderlinden

      Joe Montana’s Art and Magic of Quarterbacking by Joe Montana

      The Education Of A Coach by David Halberstam

      These don’t give all the answers but they help see the game better.

    • Chris Bach says:

      Your seem to suggest that Alabama and Arkansas have NFL-level corners and Alabama, Arkansas, and Kentucky have NFL-level linebackers.

      Looking at the rankings for the draft, I don’t see any linebacker, safety, or corner going in the first three rounds from any of those three universities.

      “When is the last time an individual won 2 National Championships in a row as QB?” Honestly, winning a junior college championship is a heck of a lot different. I would argue that – from a quarterback position – it would be a lot harder to win 8 games back-to-back in division 1 AND your bowl games than it would be to do what Cam Newton did.

  2. Abraham says:

    Most important. Position by Position Techniques and Drills for Offense, Defense, and Special Teams by Tom Bass

    Bill Walsh, Lavell Edwards, R.C. Slocum, and Jim Sweeney used it for their drills and technique.

    I look at it everyday, and there isn’t a better manual on technique available.

  3. Russ Loede says:

    Cam Newton is a black version of Ben Roethlisberger. He should be the first QB selected in the Draft. No hesitation. Too easy. As simple as that. Now if Josh Freeman can do his thing in Tampa, lead that squad to 10 wins, imagine what Cam can do for the Silver & Black! If “Killer Cam” falls to Oakland, watch out! Raiders/Chiefs AFC West showdowns will be something to watch for many years to come!