This post is part of a continuing series in which we break down 13 2011 NFL Draft prospects - our Baker's Dozen - that should interest the Buffalo Bills. Keep up to date on our Baker's Dozen series here.
Well, here we go. Time to put Cam Newton through the gamut that is our Baker's Dozen series. He'll remain the hot topic in Buffalo until the moment he's drafted on April 28, and he's been linked to the Bills in just about every way imaginable. Opinions are mixed from One Bills Drive straight down to the fan base. Might as well put on your hats of objectivity and get through this. Remember: this first scouting report will focus on Newton's on-field abilities only.
Defining Trait: On-Field Presence. We'll get to all of the off-field stuff, I promise. On the field, Newton is a magnetic presence - if he's playing, you have to watch. He's ultra-competitive and plays the game with outstanding confidence. Newton is a clutch performer, and has the mental toughness and on-field leadership capabilities to rally the troops in a tight spot. Athletically, he's a presence and a half, with a huge arm, outstanding playmaking ability and creativity, and a penchant for scoring a lot of points. Even those worried about him off the field can't deny that Newton ha great presence on it.
Throwing Abilities. Very strong arm; won't have problems making any throws at the NFL level from an arm strength standpoint, including the deep sideline stick throws. Underdeveloped throwing motion, but it is fairly compact and the ball comes out quickly. Severely underdeveloped footwork, as he was a shotgun quarterback at Auburn. Footwork will lead to accuracy issues until he's more refined technically. Will freelance a bit, leading to more inaccuracy and technical breakdowns. Average accuracy; will never be elite in this category. Did not display above-average route anticipation because of Auburn's offensive system. Throws a very inaccurate deep ball, and will need a lot of work in this area.
Movement Abilities. Incredible elusiveness. Will be able to buy himself time to throw with the best of them. His size is as much an asset as his mobility in this department, as he'll shed tackles to keep a play alive. Throws well on the run. Will need to develop his decision-making between throwing on the move and running at the NFL level. Will occasionally take a bad sack trying to do too much in avoiding defenders behind the line of scrimmage.
College Production. In one year at Auburn, Newton torched the SEC to the tune of 50 total touchdowns, a 14-0 record, a national championship and a Heisman Trophy. He broke numerous school records along the way, and his production rivaled Tim Tebow's Heisman-winning 2007 season, in which he scored 55 total touchdowns himself.
Cam Newton: College Statistics
|Cam Newton Totals||14||185||280||2,854||30||7||264||1,473||20|
Field Awareness Traits. Strong in the pocket; will stand tall in the pocket and make throws surrounded by defenders. Not remotely flustered by pressure, whether on-field or within specific game situations. Clutch performer. Has little to no experience reading complex defenses coming out of Auburn's spread-option offense, in which he was asked to make one read and then, in most cases, run. Going through progressions will be an acquired professional skill, as well - particularly the ability to do it quickly. Pre-snap reads and setting protections will be a work in progress. It will be a while before he sees the entire field and develops great route and receiver anticipation. Until he proves otherwise, scouts will question his intelligence and ability to learn a playbook cold, as well as to pick up the nuances of reading defenses.
Athletic Traits. Prototypical height and excellent build throughout his frame that makes him difficult to bring down, whether he's running or standing in the pocket. Extremely smooth athlete for a man his size. Long strider with good top speed, but his agility and stop-and-start ability are most impressive. Long-armed player, which could slow down his throwing motion. Explosive with great burst and physicality as a runner. Creative with a playmaker's instincts. Has the arm talent to eventually develop into a top-notch passer.
Cam Newton - 2011 Combine Results
Injury Issues. Because of his style of play - he was a run-first quarterback that often physically dominated opponents by running over them - durability will always be a question mark. He did fight through some minor bumps and bruises (most notably a back issue) in one year at Auburn, and though the sample size is small, he displayed excellent toughness.