Heisman winner Cam Newton is one fascinating prospect. He is one of the most widely scrutinized draft prospects in the NCAA. The opinions of NFL draft scouts vary so much on the topic of Newton. He is one of the most unique prospects ever to come out of college football. Many people say he is a system quarterback. I, personally, like Newton to be an excellent NFL draft prospect.
The common debate among NFL draft circles on the subject of Newton is whether or not he is a system quarterback, and whether or not he can he succeed at the NFL level. People question his accuracy; say his completion percentage is only good because of that offense. Receivers are constantly open in that offense because so many opposing defenses are lined up in the box prepared for some power run from Newton (the offensive line gives him a lot of time, too). It ends up opening holes in passing lanes for Newton. I am not going to sit here and deny that. He always has a lot of open receivers to throw too. It makes his job pretty easy. It may cause that outstanding 66.1% completion percentage. It's not out of the question. Maybe he isn't that accurate. He always does have open men to throw to. But I want all those critics to consider this:
At least he consistently throws to the open man. And that's a lot more than the most biased Newton critics can say about Vince Young, Jake Locker, Terrelle Pryor, and Mike Vick.
Sure, he may not be accurate. That's quite debatable. But I don't think that it can be denied that he consistently throws to the open man. Cam Newton is an excellent decision maker. And that quality is rarely found in running quarterbacks. He deserves credit for that. He doesn't force many throws and he displays good field vision when looking for receivers. And I don't think anyone can deny that. However, I rarely see him try to look off the safety on his deep ball, and he is occasionally an indecisive passer, waiting too long to hit some receivers.
That being said, I do think Newton is an accurate quarterback. I don't think I have ever seen a quarterback who is more accurate throwing on the run or across his body; however, I see him do this way too often. He could really afford to fix his footwork in the pocket, which will help him make more accurate throws. But there is no such thing as a quarterback that completes 66.1% of his passes who isn't accurate. He is pretty accurate.
Newton has excellent throw power. He puts a lot of zip on all of his passes, and he has the arm strength to throw a nice deep ball. He also does a good job of stretching the defense vertically.
Of course, Newton is a brilliant runner. He is an unbelievable athlete for a quarterback of his size, he has tremendous speed and loose hips for a 6'6 quarterback, he showcases unbelievable toughness and strength for evading defenders, and he is a natural at evading pressure. The extra time he can create in the pocket will be valuable in the NFL.
My biggest issue with Newton is his release, which I think could really hinder his ability to throw an effective deep ball. He has a very quick release for a guy of his size. That's not the issue. But I really dislike the high release point that he has, which could really hurt him when throwing the deep ball. Newton already has tremendous height at 6'6. But a high release point combined with his tremendous height means the ball gets out of his hands pretty high in the air. Because of this tendency, his passes tend to come out of his hands at an almost straight angle, meaning all of his passes tend to have a lot of zip on them, and his passes tend to have a smaller arc on their path to the receiver more than any quarterback I have ever seen. The lack of an arc on his deep ball forces Newton to be significantly more accurate when throwing the deep ball. Because when throwing a deep ball, Newton has to get it over the nearby safety's head as well as into the receiver's arms. A quarterback that has a great arc on his deep ball can hit the receiver in the numbers without worrying about the defender. With total lack of an arc on his passes, hitting the receiver in the numbers without the pass being deflected becomes nearly impossible, and Newton is forced to be significantly more accurate on all of his deep passes, or, really, any pass in which he has to get the ball over the head of the defender but into the receiver's arms (I have hypothesized that this is the same reason that centers are poor at shooting free throws, with the front rim being the hypothetical defender and the back rim being the hypothetical receiver). This makes throwing accurate passes significantly harder for Newton, and the kind of change in fundamentals that would be required to fix Newton's delivery would be extremely difficult for Newton to adjust to and he may become inaccurate with a newfangled delivery.
Here are some highlights of Newton:
Overall, I really like Newton, but I think that this issue with his delivery does lower his ceiling at the NFL level. But Newton has the talent and underrated polish as a passer to be great quarterback at the NFL level.
NFL Comparison: He is the most unique quarterback I have ever seen. There is no comparison. Period.