Tag:Cam Newton
Posted on: February 25, 2012 3:37 pm
 

Combine setup leading QBs to put arms on ice?

The top four quarterbacks on NFLDraftScout.com's board are not throwing passes at the 2012 Scouting Combine. 

Stanford's Andrew Luck (own choice), Baylor's Robert Griffin III (own choice), Texas A&M's Ryan Tannehill (foot) and Arizona State's Brock Osweiler (unknown) have each said they won't be throwing at the Combine. 

Highly regarded quarterbacks electing to hold off until their Pro Day is nothing new, of course. Often the reasons given by these quarterbacks as to why they'd rather wait until their Pro Day is the fact that they'll be throwing to their own receivers in the surroundings they've grown accustomed to. 

NFLDraftScout.com, however, was told of another reason why quarterbacks may want to wait until their on-campus workouts. The high-level source used Cam Newton's erratic performance during the Combine throwing session last year as an example.

"Last year [scouts] didn't sync the QB drop and the wide receiver pattern. For example, [Newton] was dropping five steps but the wide receivers were doing three step type patterns." 

The miscommunication caused Newton's accuracy to appear to be inconsistent. He took the hit publicly for a mediocre performance and to his credit never said a word publicly about what may have been the biggest reason for it.

The Carolina Panthers obviously looked past the performance -- and considering the terrific rookie season Newton had in 2011, they were certainly wise in doing so.
             
Posted on: February 10, 2012 3:26 pm
 

Stanford, Baylor each schedule March 22 Pro Days

Unless Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III defy the trend of top-rated quarterbacks choosing not to throw at the Scouting Combine, talent evaluators are going to have a tough time seeing both throw prior to the 2012 draft.

That's because Stanford and Baylor have each scheduled their on-campus "Pro Day" workouts on March 22, according to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The conflicting schedule could force teams to split up their decision-makers to take in the workouts. This happened last year when the Carolina Panthers sent head coach Ron Rivera to watch Cam Newton's Pro Day workout at Auburn while general manager Marty Hurney reportedly attended Ryan Mallett's workout at Arkansas.

Another possibility, of course, is that Luck and/or Griffin could schedule their own individual workouts so that scouts could attend both.

If scouts are, indeed, forced to choose one or the other, the smart money is on Griffin generating more interest despite the fact that Luck is regarded as the top prospect in the draft. While both quarterbacks are viewed as exceptional talents worthy of top five consideration, Griffin has many more questions to answer prior to the draft than Luck.

Having established himself as the elite talent in the country two years running, Luck's game has already been dissected by most decision-makers. Griffin's ascension has been more sudden. Furthermore, scouts will want to see how Griffin drops back from center after having taken the majority of his snaps out of the shotgun while at Baylor.

While there remains some debate as to which direction the Indianapolis Colts may go with the No. 1 overall pick, they are thought to be leaning towards Luck. Should they take Griffin or any other player with the first pick, the line of suitors to trade up into the St. Louis Rams' No. 2 pick would be a long one. Should Griffin not be drafted No. 1, however, it remains to be seen if he generates the same trade interest or if he "falls" past No. 2 overall. Among the teams expected to be interested in adding Griffin would be the Cleveland Browns (owners of the No. 4 overall pick), the Washington Redskins (No. 6), Miami Dolphins (No. 9*), and Seattle Seahawks (No. 12*).  *Miami and Seattle's first round pick won't be decided until a coin-flip at the Combine. They may move up one spot each in the draft order after finishing tied with the Carolina Panthers and Kansas City Chiefs, respectively.

As it stands now, I am projecting Griffin to slip to No. 4 overall, where the Browns could nab him. Dane Brugler has the Heisman winner landing with Cleveland, as well.

Scouts are quick to point out that Pro Day workouts in which quarterbacks are throwing "against air" rather than defenses do not ultimately play a significant role in determining his final grade. That hasn't stopped the "Pro Day season" from becoming a huge part of the pre-draft process. Teams dedicate plenty of money and time crossing the country to attend the workouts.

I, myself, have attended several Pro Day workouts of highly regarded quarterbacks, including last year's for Jake Locker, Sam Bradford's in 2010 and Mark Sanchez in 2009.

Posted on: January 16, 2012 9:02 pm
 

Report: Auburn QB Trotter leaving early

The deadline for underclassmen leaving college early for the NFL may have passed Saturday but with some players (and programs) electing to not announce the news publicly, the number of prospects heading into the 2012 draft is sure to grow.

Auburn junior quarterback Barrett Trotter appears to be the first such example.

Trotter, 6-2, 207 pounds, was put in the unenviable position of trying to replace Cam Newton. With Trotter at the helm Auburn was nearly beat in their season opener against Utah State. He threw 10 touchdowns and six interceptions in starting the first seven games of the season for the Tigers. He was benched at halftime against Florida after completing just two of eight passes for 33 yards over the first two quarters. Trotter didn't see action the rest of the year until an injury to starter Clint Moseley during the Chick-fil-A Bowl put him back on the field. To Trotter's credit, he responded with arguably the best game of his career, completing 11 of 18 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown in Auburn's 43-24 victory over Virginia.

Despite his heroics, Trotter is not a highly regarded pro prospect. He was rated the No. 26 quarterback of the 2013 draft class by NFLDraftScout.com. Prior to his playing time in 2011 Trotter had only attempted nine passes in his collegiate career. He completed six of them for 64 yards and had also run for 68 yards and a touchdown. For his career Trotter completed 98 of 176 for 1,248 yards and 11 touchdowns against six interceptions.

Unlike some prospects with an inflated opinion of their standing with NFL scouts, this appears to be an example of a student-athlete taking the academic side of his life seriously while exploring his dream of playing at the professional level.

A redshirt junior, Trotter already has his undergraduate degree and according to Charles Goldberg of al.com is staying in grad school and planning to participate in Auburn's Pro Day tryouts in March.

Posted on: December 28, 2011 1:22 pm
 

Three of top five 2011 picks voted to Pro Bowl

If there was any questions about the talent and immediate impact ability of the 2011 draft class they may have been answered yesterday when it was announced that three rookies were voted Pro Bowl starters.

The rookies, who incidentally were selected with the second, fourth and fifth picks overall were Denver pass rusher Von Miller, Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green and Arizona cornerback/returner Patrick Peterson.

Miller, NFLDraftScout.com's highest rated senior prospect last year, currently has 64 tackles and 11.5 sacks for the Broncos. While Tim Tebow and the Broncos' dominant run game has garnered most of the hype this year, it has been Miller and the Denver defense that has been just as critical in turning the Broncos from one of the league's worst teams into the possible AFC West champions. Miller's success comes as no surprise as his speed off the edge, when coupled with that of Elvis Dumervil's, gave me reason to predict in August that the former Texas A&M Aggie would win this year's Defensive Rookie of the Year.

As impressive as Miller was making plays on the defensive side of the ball, it isn't difficult to understand why NFLDraftScout.com rated A.J. Green as the best offensive pro prospect in the draft. Green leads the Bengals with 63 catches, 1,031 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. Though Calvin Johnson might beg to differ, statistically speaking Green has been the best big play wideout in the NFL this season, havihttp://rob-rang.blogs.cbssports
.com/mcc/blogs/edit-entry/13682485n
g caught 11 passes for 35  yards or more, thus far.

Peterson, who I ranked as the top overall prospect in the 2011 draft, proved to be every bit the playmaker on special teams that his fellow rookies were on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Peterson tied an NFL record with four punt returns for touchdowns this season. He's struggled at times in coverage for the Cardinals, but has gotten better as the season has gone on, recording 60 tackles, 13 passes defensed and two interceptions. Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic asked star wideout Larry Fitzgerald about Peterson and his selection to the Pro Bowl. Fitzgerald's response is sure to make Cardinals' fans excited about Peterson's future.

"I remember in the draft everybody was talking about Von Miller this, Von Miller that -- and he's a fantastic player, a Pro Bowler as well -- but what Patrick has done us for this year, I think, has been the best in the league of anybody, except for maybe Cam Newton."

Fitzgerald was asked if he thought Peterson would make the Pro Bowl as a cornerback one day:

"I think he's right there. He's tremendously talented. I don't he even knows how talented he is. Talking to (Bengals receiver) A.J. Green after the game a little bit, and he's telling me Patrick was by far the best cornerback he's gone against. I feel the same way. When I compete against him, there are not many guys around the league that I play on Sundays who can match up with his physical tools. And then you talk about his ball skills, the way he's able to go attack the football at its highest point, tackle. I mean, the only thing he needs is experience, and I think playing every single game this year gave him that. His confidence you see is just continuing to rise week in and week out."


It should be noted that as good as these three were, one could make the argument that several other top ten picks from the 2011 draft could have been honored with a trip to Hawaii. Quarterback Cam Newton, who of course was drafted No. 1 overall by Carolina, defensive lineman Marcell Dareus (Buffalo, No. 3 overall), wide receiver Julio Jones (Atlanta, No. 6 overall) and pass rusher Aldon Smith (San Francisco, No. 7 overall) each made huge impacts for their respective clubs as rookies.


Posted on: November 2, 2011 4:09 pm
 

Phil Simms not alone in calling Luck overrated

Former Super Bowl MVP and CBS' analyst Phil Simms made waves yesterday with his proclamation that Andrew Luck was being "hype[d] a little too much" and that he didn't see "big time NFL throws" from the Stanford redshirt junior quarterback.

By ranking Luck as the top prospect I've seen in 12 years of scouting, obviously I disagree.

Simms isn't the only one who has concerns about Luck, however.

During the Stanford-Southern Cal game I spent about 45 minutes talking to a high level scout who also had reservations about the Stanford quarterback.

The scout began the conversation about Luck by asking my assessment of Luck's arm strength. I told him that I did not believe that arm strength was Luck's greatest asset, but that having scouted Luck in person and off of video I believed him to have plenty of zip on the ball to make every NFL throw. I also pointed out that Luck's anticipation and accuracy -- arguably his two best features -- more than made up for a lack of a howitzer for a right arm.

The scout agreed that Luck's anticipation and accuracy "were what make him special" but used April's No. 1 overall pick Cam Newton as a comparison to drive a point home about how much Luck has been over-hyped thus far.

"I'm not so sure that after scouting each of these guys closely that some scouts wouldn't favor Newton over Luck," the scout said. "Newton is so much more of a physical specimen. He's bigger, stronger, faster and has a gun. Luck, for all of the things he does have, doesn't have an arm like that. I think the perception is that Carolina would have taken Luck in a heart beat over Newton. Maybe they would have. But I think it would be a closer call than most people think based on the hype."

Newton's instant and continued success in the NFL has taken many of us by surprise, so I asked the scout if perhaps this fact wasn't clouding his comments. He chuckled and acknowledged the quality work that the Carolina Panthers (specifically offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski) had done in adapting his offense to tailor to Newton's strengths, but also pointed out that "talent is talent and when you've got a lot of it, a little coaching can go a long way."

"The reality is, Luck is a pretty special talent, but he's not Superman. I don't know that anyone could be as good as the hype he's getting right now." 

Posted on: September 14, 2011 10:45 am
Edited on: September 14, 2011 10:49 am
 

Cam brilliant vs. AZ; faces stiffer test with GB

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has received a great deal of praise for his astonishing NFL debut, but before we start engraving his name on the Rookie of the Year Trophy just yet, let's see what he does for an encore.

Newton completed 24 of 37 passes for 422 yards -- the most any rookie quarterback has even thrown in their first NFL game.

As expected, he kept the Arizona defense honest with his legs, but it was the accuracy and command of the offense that he showed that caught the Cardinals off-guard. Newton's poise down the stretch was very impressive. So too, was his focus on the big picture following the game. Newton didn't want to talk about his record-breaking performance. Instead, demonstrating the leadership qualities that teammates at Auburn had praised him for, Newton focused on the need to improve and the disappointment of the 28-21 loss.

"The last time I lost a game was Navarro Junior College," Newton told reporters following the game. "What do you want me to say, it feels great? It is not a comfortable feeling for me."

"There's going to be a lot more things I can look back on tomorrow after I watch the film," Newton said. "One thing I know is you have to capitalize. When you're in the red zone, you can't take the sack, you can't digress."

Now, for all of the great things Newton demonstrated against the Cardinals, it is only fair to point out the generally shabby play by the Arizona defense. On many occasions, Newton was throwing to wide open targets.

Rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson was victimized on several occasions (though he provided what turned out to be the game-winning score on an 89-yard punt return in the 4th quarter). Peterson lined up against Steve Smith for much of the day and was beaten for Smith's second touchdown of the day (26 yards). Earlier in the game, Smith got behind Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson for the 77-yard score that was Newton's first score as a professional quarterback.

The Cardinals, of course, were without their best cornerback of the past several years after trading Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to the Philadelphia Eagles as part of a package to land their own new quarterback, Kevin Kolb.

The defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers will give Newton a much stiffer test Sunday. Though obviously the brilliance of Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers and NFL Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Clay Matthews were huge reasons for Green Bay's success last season, the strong play from the Packers' defensive backfield played a critical role in securing the Lombardi Trophy. While the Philadelphia Eagles possess the "dream team" combination of Nnamdi Asomugha, Asante Samuel and the aforementioned Rodgers-Cromartie, for my money, the Packers' Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields is every bit as treacherous.

And after Newton's stunning debut, the trio will certainly be taking the rookie quarterback seriously.

One silver lining for Newton, his own confidence -- and that of teammates, coaches and Carolina fans -- should be high heading into this weekend's home opener.
Posted on: May 3, 2011 8:35 pm
 

Finding the Fits -- The Quarterbacks


Over the next two weeks I will be highlighting a different position each day in an attempt to Find the Fit -- identifying 2011 prospects who are a particularly good schematic fits for the club that selected him. I'll also highlight one player per position who I believe could struggle in his new NFL role. Too often in the past rookies who have struggled in the NFL have done so because they were simply drafted into schemes that didn't fit their individual strengths.

Considering their importance to the game and the number of high profile passers who went early in the 2011 Draft, I'm starting off with the quarterbacks.

Players are listed alphabetically, not in the order in which I see their fit with their respective teams.

Good Fits:

Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers:
I will be the first to admit that I have not been as high on Kaepernick as many others are, but there is no denying that he was drafted into an ideal scenario with the 49ers and head coach Jim Harbaugh. Kaepernick has rare physical tools, as well as the intelligence and work ethic to be successful. Kaepernick's elongated throwing motion, however, is a concern of mine. I had reservations about it and know that some teams did too. I believe that when a club asks a quarterback to significantly alter their throwing motion it lessens the likelihood of the quarterback ever having success, which is one of the reasons why Kaepernick's fit with an NFL team was so important. The 49ers and Harbaugh, however, don't appear concerned with the hitch in his delivery . Harbaugh is widely credited with developing Andrew Luck's natural talents and preaches an offense that spreads the field and occassionally allows the quarterback the freedom to run -- all of which bode well for the former Nevada passer. Perhaps best of all, as a 2nd round pick, Kaepernick might be afforded the luxury of time to develop.

Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans: Assuming the Titans re-sign veteran Kerry Collins or add another veteran quarterback, Locker is in a position to succeed. Though a four-year starter at UW, he is not yet ready to make the jump into the NFL, as only his final two seasons were in a pro-style offense. His time spent at Washington under then-head coach Tyrone Willingham, was essentially spent as a running back taking snaps from center -- just as it was for him in high school. However, Locker has shown improvement in his technique since the season, leading many to believe that he is just scratching the surface of his potential. Furthermore, he is a nice fit in this scheme. Think about what the Titans do well... They feature the ultra-athletic Chris Johnson on the stretch play. A quarterback capable of bootlegs and play-action off of Johnson's runs will be successful.

Christian Ponder, Minnesota Vikings: While many jumped on the Christian Ponder bandwagon following the Senior Bowl or the Combine, I've been touting the FSU passer for quite some time and believe that he was the most pro-ready passer in this draft. It doesn't surprise me, quite frankly, that Minnesota head coach Leslie Frazier believes Ponder could be his opening day starter. Ponder has the intelligence to pick up Bill Musgrave's offense quickly, especially since many of Musgrave's West Coast Offensive principles tie in with what Ponder played with at FSU. Though Ponder doesn't have a big arm, his short to intermediate level accuracy, touch down the seam, and confidence in play-action make him a good schematic fit for the Vikings' run-heavy attack and focus on quick screens to take advantage of Percy Harvin's unique talent.

Questionable Fit:

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers: Okay, you may have seen this coming, considering the fact that many have concerns about how well the No. 1 overall pick will be able to transition from a spread-option offense that was so perfectly suited to his wonderful athletic tools to Rob Chudzinski's multiple-formation, vertical-passing attack. I have no doubt that the Panthers already have a plan in place to cater their offense around Newton's unique skill-set, but this is a complicated scheme for any quarterback to master, much less a rookie. I do not have the concerns about intelligence or leadership that some others seem to have about Newton. I understand the physical comparisonst to Vince Young, but believe the mental toughness Newton demonstrated in fighting through all of the off-field distractions this season more than prove his ability to focus on game-day. I also like the talent around Newton in Carolina -- along the offensive line, running back and at receiver. I just have real reservations about any passer with only one year of starting experience at the D-I level making the jump to the NFL... and unlike the other players mentioned in this post, Newton won't have the luxury of time. The high price and attention of the No. 1 overall pick will almost certainly force the Panthers to play him immediately.
Posted on: April 27, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: April 27, 2011 7:29 pm
 

Late assessments on the "other" QBs

This year’s draft might be rifer with quarterback quandaries than any lottery in recent memory.

In fact, quarterback might be the one position that commands as many disparate opinions as defensive end – where scouts seem to be in agreement that eight or nine could be taken in the first round, but are all over the board in terms of an order -- maybe even more.

And here are a few late assessments from scouts on the quarterbacks not named Newton or Gabbert:

   --There remain serious questions about the arm strength of Andy Dalton of TCU, especially on deep balls, and passes thrown outside the numbers. Dalton possesses leadership skills that some deem off the charts, and has the most college starts of any of the top-ranked quarterbacks, but his measurable attributes are fairly average.

   --While he has just pedestrian speed, and there are concerns over off-field rumors, Ryan Mallett of Arkansas times the fastest in taking the snap under center and getting rid of the ball.

   --Washington’s Jake Locker was a guy who ran too much early in 2010, but was impressive later in the season in identifying second and third options in the passing game.

   --Christian Ponder probably throws to the “right receiver,” with very nice touch but suspect arm strength, more than any of the quarterback prospects.

--Len Pasquarelli, The Sports Xchange

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com