Cam Newton: Heisman Candidate, NFL Project
By: Ian Kenyon
October 27, 2010
Cameron Newton
Over the past two months, Cam Newton has become a national phenomenon. His combination of size, speed, agility, and arm strength has put him at the forefront of the Heisman Trophy race. However, Newton wasn't always on the path to stardom. Before landing at Auburn, Newton had to sit behind Tim Tebow at Florida and then played at Blinn College in Texas. I will take you through each stage of his career and forecast his future in the NFL.

Newton was a highly touted dual-threat quarterback from Westlake High School in Atlanta, GA where he threw for over 1,400 yards and ran for another, 1,000 as a Senior. Rivals pegged him as a five-star recruit and the #2 quarterback in the class of 2007.

On national signing day in 2007, Newton signed his letter of intent to attend the University of Florida. He was a great fit for coach Urban Meyer's read option offense and appeared as if he would be the likely successor to Tim Tebow. During his freshman season, Newton beat out current Florida starter John Brantley for the backup job behind Tebow. Then, during his sophomore year, Newton agreed to redshirt rather than lose another year of eligibility on the bench behind Tebow. Most NFL Draft analysts expected Tebow to declare for the 2009 draft, but after the 2009 National Championship, Tebow announced his intentions to stay at Florida for his senior season. Entering his third year at Florida and still without a starting job, Newton felt that it would be in his best interest to transfer to get more playing time.

Newton took less than a month to decide where to transfer by enrolling at Blinn College in January, 2009. By transferring to a Junior College, he was eligible to play football immediately. Coached by Brad Franchione, son of Dennis Franchione of TCU, Newton led Blinn to an 11-1 record and a spot in the 2009 NJCAA national championship. His spectacular play earned him the top spot in Rivals' quarterback rankings for the 2010 recruiting class, high school and junior college combined.

On the final night of 2009, Auburn fans rejoiced as Newton verbally committed to join the Tigers. He joined a four-man battle for the Auburn starting quarterback job during the spring and was named the permanent starter on April 28, 2010. Since taking over the reigns for last year's starter, Chris Todd, Cameron Newton has become a spectacle of highlight reel plays and weekly national accolades as he has cemented himself as the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy. Through eight games, he has led the Tigers to an 8-0 record and a number one ranking by the BCS computers while throwing for 1,364 yards, 13 TD and only four interceptions. But even more stunning is what he has been able to accomplish on the ground. Newton has 1,077 yards and 14 TD on the ground and is averaging 6.9 yards per carry. In his last three games, all against tough SEC opponents in Kentucky, Arkansas, and LSU, Newton is averaging 201 rushing yards and 3 rushing TD per game. His unique combination of size, athletic ability, and arm strength has NFL teams wondering if he can become everything that draft experts expected Vince Young to be.

Newton clearly has exceptional athletic ability as there are not many players in the NFL with his size, speed, and strength. ESPN analyst Skip Bayless went as far as to say this week that the player that Newton reminds him of is LeBron James. Like LeBron, Newton is simply bigger, faster, and stronger than anyone else on the field and you have to adjust your style of play to stop him. While that may be true at the college level, his pro-potential is limited by his raw experience as a passer. Newton plays in a system with a lot of designed runs and when passing he is usually only asked to make one read. In the past, we have seen quarterbacks with this type of athleticism change positions (I.E. Matt Jones). I do not think that Newton will be asked to change positions, but he will be a long project for whichever team drafts him in the NFL. It would be to Newton's advantage to stay at Auburn for his senior season and refine his abilities as a passer. If Newton can show the willingness to go through a progression and commit to learning proper mechanics he could go as high as the first round in the 2012 NFL draft. If he jumps the gun and declares this year, I do not see him going any higher than third round as a developmental quarterback prospect.

(February 8, -- The official roster of players invited to this year's scouting combine, which takes place from February 23 - March 1 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. has been announced. Refer to the tabs in the navigation bar for the combine participants by position. Overall, a total of 330 players have been invited to this year's combine, three more than last year. Sideline Scouting will be posting complete weigh-in and testing results daily.

*A.J. Green
WR, Georgia
*Nick Fairley
DT, Auburn
Von Miller
LB, Texas A&M;
*Da'Quan Bowers
DE, Clemson
*Cameron Newton
QB, Auburn
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