Thursday, April 28, 2011


Cam Newton's equipped for the NFL's fast lane. He has the body
of an H3 Hummer, runs like a Ferrari, and shines like a meticulously
detailed Bentley.

But get out of the Car Fax and you'll see that he has some serious
damage under the hood. There was the arrest for stealing a laptop
at Florida, whispers of a cheating scandal, and that pay-for-play
drama with Mississippi State that monopolized the headlines in the fall.

Still, scouts are drooling over Newton like a 13-year old goes
gaga over a high school teacher who has all the "tools". The former
Heisman trophy winner is gifted with a bazooka for an arm,  legs
that can cover forty yards in 4.5 seconds, and a body that is 250lbs
of twisted steel.

But Newton's ability to play quarterback at the next level has been
seriously questioned by anyone and everyone who has and has not ever
played the game. They say he played in the spread at Auburn, didn't
have to drop back or read a defense, but rather the numbers off a card
that the offensive coordinator displayed on the sideline.

As you read, there are a lot BUT's and HOWEVER's with Cam Newton
because he's a mega-talented star with lots, and lots of question marks.

As John Gruden demonstrated in his coaching session with Newton on
ESPN, just calling the plays can be like learning a foreign language. How
about: 3 set, triple right, kill option zone, z post, x fly, y cross, on one,
ready break. In that session alone, Newton's head was spinning like a top
on the playground.

Does a team like the Carolina Panthers really want to invest about $50
million dollars in a player who may not be a able to read a defense or
call an audible? Newton admitted in his meeting with Gruden that
he NEVER called an audible at Auburn. Never? How is he going to
do when James Harrison is frothing at mouth while showing blitz and
Troy Polamalu is sprinting up the middle like a heat-seeking missile?
Oh, the Panthers will probably take Newton cause their franchise,
which is on life-support, needs Newton to be its defibrillator. Somebody
who can spark ticket sales and sell sponsorships.

Plus, every coach and staff thinks they can "coach up" a player.
Didn't they think that with JaMarcus Russell and Ryan Leaf, two
gifted college QB's who didn't have the brains or moxie to play QB
in the NFL. They turned out to be two of the biggest busts in the
history of the league.

A QB is the CEO of the team and the face of the franchise. Can
the Panthers trust a player who was stealing laptops in college? Can
they teach a guy who never learned how to read a defense in college,
to break down the sophisticated, Star Wars defenses of the NFL?
Matt Ryan was a ready made NFL QB coming out of Boston College.
He started for three years, ran a pro-style offense under Jeff Jagodzinski,
who was an offensive coordinator for the Green Bay Packers.

In his pre-draft meetings with the Atlanta Falcons, he was breaking
down defenses and making sight adjustments better than the coach
who was grilling him. Newton is nowhere near as advanced as Ryan,
and even Ryan struggled in his second year when teams adjusted to him.

Newton will be a project to which team drafts him. He'll  need a
good two to three years to develop into just a solid back-up. That's how
Aaron Rodgers developed after being drafted in the first round. He sat
behind Brett Favre and learned the ropes. And when he was called
upon, Rodgers proved he is one of the best QB's in the NFL. Carson
Palmer sat behind the immortal Jon Kitna in Cincinnati for a year after
being the first overall player taken.

Newton won't be sitting behind a Favre or a Jim Kelly in Buffalo,
if the Bills do take him. Newton will be thrown into the fire right away.
But Newton has been thrown into the fire a lot over the last year,
hasn't he?

Tonight's NFL draft should be very interesting and guaranteed to
draw some big ratings, thanks to Newton and his mystique. The man
who wore number 2 at Auburn is most likely to be taken first overall
by the Carolina Panthers, but don't be surprised if he keeps falling, and
falling, and falling and drops a lot further than expected.

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