NFL Draft: Who Does Cam Newton Compare to?
Cam Newton is one of the most controversial and accomplished college football players in recent memory entering the 2011 NFL Draft. I feel with Cam there is no gray area, you either like him or you don’t. While there has never been a QB with his size and speed, I have been searching for a player to compare him to as he makes the transition from college to the pros. I have found that player.
In the beginning I thought he could be the next Ben Roethlisberger. A thick 6’5 QB who could stand in the pocket and shake off a few defenders before throwing the deep ball. Both Big Ben and Cam Newton have had their off-field issues. Nevertheless, I doubt Ben came into the league as raw as Cam (at Miami, OH), I’m sure he threw the ball plenty and did not take games over his with feet in the second half. Roethlisberger came from a smaller school and was the more accomplished passer at this point in their careers. While there are some similarities, I don’t think the Cam~Big Ben comparison holds water.
The quarterback who I’m going to begin comparing him to is Donovan McNabb. McNabb came into the league and he was too much for defenses to handle. The former basketball and football player at Syracuse made defenses pay with his agility and deep ball accuracy. The two areas which are Cam Newton’s strength: making plays with his feet when the pocket breaks down and throwing an accurate deep ball. They are also similar by way of their weakness: short-range accuracy. McNabb misses low and Cam seems to miss high. Some who I’ve talked to question whether Cam is as intelligent as Donovan or as seasoned. However, both are leaders.
There seems little doubt that Cam is a developmental QB, that he won’t be ready to start from day one and will need a season or two to learn the pro game. I could see his track mirroring McNabb’s in that, he sits most of the first season and starts 4-6 games at the end of the season before becoming starter in his second season. Just as McNabb was forced to make plays with his feet and arms with little talent around him, I believe Cam Newton can do the same (and did the same at Auburn). McNabb always had a knack for dropping the deep ball to his WR perfectly [see: McNabb to TO vs. SF] and Cam Newton is special when it comes to throwing the deep ball as well.
The comparisons between McNabb and Newton are appealing because of how their strengths and weakness align. You can compare their skill sets all you want, but a lot will come down to Cam Newton’s mentality… does he have same work ethic as McNabb? Does he want to be great? One thing is for sure, the sky is the limit.
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