I have talked to a few people about Cam Newton’s NFL potential, so I thought I would put up an early scouting report based off of what I have seen of him this year. I have two or three more games to watch of him as far as scouting is concerned, plus the National Championship game, so this definitely isn’t a final scouting report. However, I do think I have a pretty good feel for his game at this point, so here are my thoughts on Newton as a NFL prospect at this point:

Cam Newton's combination of size, arm strength and mobility make him an intriguing prospect.

I have serious, serious questions about how Cam Newton will transition to the NFL but I don’t think that will stop a team from drafting him as a QB. He does have some intriguing attributes such as great size, athletic ability and great arm strength and zip on his passes. His throwing motion is fine, but obviously his footwork needs a lot of work and his accuracy is inconsistent. But damn does he throw a good deep ball.

The comparison I would make is Vince Young with a cleaner throwing motion and better arm strength, but probably a little less impressive accuracy. However, Vince Young would very likely not be picked as high now as he was when he initially entered the draft. The reason Newton will be drafted as a QB is because he has demonstrated incredible potential this year doing the things he has done this year in the SEC. Obviously the offense he plays in does not translate to the NFL at all, and it coaches him to make one read and then look to scramble to extend the play, but the key component of evaluating Newton will be evaluating his intelligence and his intangibles. If he is a smart guy and he can impress scouts and coaches with X’s and O’s at the combine or any other time they interview him, his stock will shoot up. And if they talk to him and come to the conclusion that he has learned from his past mistakes and has a good work ethic then his stock will shoot up even more.

It’s tricky to evaluate him because you can look at him and see him for what he is and say: He’s a great athlete that can throw the ball really far and make great plays with his legs. That doesn’t sound like a good NFL QB. But then some people will look at him and say: If I can work with him for a year or two to improve his footwork and clean up his mechanics and get him comfortable going through progressions and reads, as well as working from under center regularly so he can learn to do 3, 5 and 7 step drops, then boy… I could have a revolutionary talent on my hands.

I personally think he will end up something like Vince Young. He will be able to win some games despite his sometimes erratic accuracy, but ultimately I think he will be a disappointment compared to what he was able to do in college. Too many things have to go right for him to overcome his issues as a prospect including: dramatically improving his footwork, teaching him how to do 3, 5 and 7 step drops, teaching him a pro-style offense and helping him learn how to go through more than one progression consistently, developing actual pocket poise to the point where he can buy time in the pocket without scrambling outside of the tackle box… There’s just a laundry list of things he has to work on, and even if he has great ability and good work ethic it will be a serious chore to overcome all of this. Best case scenario I think he becomes a 56-58% passer who can put up some big games to inspire confidence but against a defense that can take away his scrambling ability he will struggle mightily, similar to what Vick and Young have gone through in the NFL.

I have him #9 on my QB rankings that I recently posted because with coaching he could at least do a comparable job to what VY did in the NFL, and that’s worth a 3rd rounder I would say. The problem with that is if he actually declares I don’t think he will last until the 3rd round. Some team will fall in love with his combination of size, arm strength, athletic ability and potential and draft him earlier than he should get picked, potentially in the top 25 selections depending on the draft order.

Hopefully you guys found my thoughts on Cam Newton interesting. He is a really intriguing prospect but when you watch him play and try to evaluate the way he plays and how it translates to the NFL you notice a lot of things he needs to work on. That’s not to say he can’t and won’t work on them, but at this point I am definitely not sold on him as a 1st round NFL prospect.

Thanks for reading!

–Tom

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