Cam Newton stood around for four hours watching his Auburn teammates work out at the team's pro day Tuesday, most of the time with a backpack on and a smile on his face. As his workout progressed, the smile went away with only occasional returns, as he got to work.
He and throwing coach George Whitfield began his workout rolling out to his right, then left, keeping his shoulders square--though drifting forward a bit when running to his left, which would be into defenders during games. He continued to show his athleticism with footwork asked to shuffle within "the pocket", keeping his focus on Whitfield while moving with short, quick shuffle steps (without crossing his legs or even narrowing his stance).
There was not much wasted footwork in three, five or seven-step drops, as Newton usually got to his plant efficiently. Dropping in workouts does not require the expediency needed during games, but his drops were not slow or lazy by any stretch--and they were much tighter than those from Arkansas Ryan Mallett during his pro day workout.
Scouts will not come away from the workout with questions about Newton's release or arm strength. The ball popped out of his hand, and his over-the-top delivery is pretty quick for a quarterback with nearly 34-inch arms. The vast majority of his throws were tight spirals (with a handful of slight wobblers), allowing them to cut through wind on cold fall days.
His trajectory on deep passes was also much better than most other quarterbacks' were at the Combine, not putting too much air underneath them to prevent safeties from getting to sideline or seam throws (and artificially inflate workout completion percentages).
The main issue scouts will have with Newton's workouts is his "area code accuracy." His intermediate comebacks and curls were on the money, as were his speed outs to either side of the field. But not every ball was planted into his receiver's numbers, with several outs and seams throws only in the vicinity of the receiver (whether high, in front of, or behind the receiver). Those deep throws, while looking nice, did not hit their targets often enough.
Newton's over-the-top delivery actually causes some of his issues, as when his weight is not transferred correctly (as happened in Indianapolis), balls will sail over the heads of his receivers. Keeping short throws low (away from defenders and preventing tipped passes) can be an issue for him, as well, because of tall delivery but he managed that feat Tuesday.
The 2011 Heisman Trophy winner completed 50 of the 60 scripted throws, with four clearly dropped passes and a similar number of great catches to grab errant throws, while wearing shorts and facing no defense.
Others had completed more passes, like 2010 number one pick Sam Bradford (49-50), in their workout. But nobody should expect Newton to have Bradford's accuracy--few passers do. All Newton needed to do was show enough improvement from the Combine to encourage teams looking to add his athleticism and strong arm to their roster that he can move the ball effectively from the pocket at the next level.
And he did just that.