40: 4.50 (estimated)
Has an excellent arm, second to none. Able to fire the ball 60+ yards downfield on a frozen rope and hit a receiver in stride. Has a quick release, and the ball comes out with a lot of velocity and has good zip to fit tight windows. Is athletic and mobility and is very good making plays with his legs when the pass breaks down. Has good speed and can beat defenders to the corner. Has the quickness to make guys miss in the open field. Runs low with good balance. Has excellent size and power, and will lower the shoulder and run over linebackers. Excellent in short yardage and shows toughness as a runner. Hard for defensive linemen to bring down because of his size and strength. But also knows how to avoid the unnecessary shots when he's running with the ball. His strength allows him to buy an extra second to deliver the ball in the pocket. Utilizes the pump fake on the double move. Occasionally will look off the safety and go to his second read. Shows some accuracy, able to put the ball in an area where his receiver can make a play. Can avoid the rush, step up in the pocket, and make a throw. Shows some subtle ability to slide around and find throwing lanes. Emotional guy that shows leadership potential. Tends to perform well under pressure and has a tendency to get better as games wear on as he develops a better feel and rhythm for the heat of battle.
Has bad mechanics and footwork. Struggles to set his feet when he's throwing, constantly throwing off his back foot or none at all when he's on the move or inside the pocket. Doesn't do a good job squaring his shoulders when throwing on the run. Works almost exclusively out of a shotgun, and struggled with his footwork as a dropback passer. Accuracy is erratic because of that poor footwork, and rarely isn't asked to make throws in tight windows. Has a long clock in his head and tends to hold onto the ball too long. Looks to evade and extend play outside the pocket instead of just throwing it away. Doesn't always show a great feel for pressure and will key on the rush instead of keeping his eyes downfield. Will take some sacks because he's not super decisive with the ball. Doesn't always make good decisions when you confine him to the pocket and prevent him from using his legs to extend the play. Doesn't show good anticipation when scanning the defense, having a tendency to stare down his receivers and reads. Too quick to tuck and run at times when his first read isn't there. Runs a check with me offense and may not have a ton of experience reading a defense.
Newton has athleticism second to none, because he's as good and natural a runner as Michael Vick or Vince Young but has the size and strength of a Daunte Culpepper, Ben Roethlisberger, or Josh Freeman that makes him almost impossible to sack or tackle. That allows him to extend plays and make plays that others cannot with his arm and leg. The main issue with Newton is whether or not he's going to translate his athletic tools to a level where he can be an efficient, accurate pocket passer, so that his athletic skills become an asset versus a hindrance. Newton is a two-time national championship winner, his first one coming as a junior at Blinn Junior College. He led them to an 11-1 record, completing 60.7% of his 336 passes for 2833 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. He also rushed for 655 yards (6.1 avg) and 16 scores. His second came when he transferred to Auburn this past year, leading them to a 14-0 record, completing 66.1% of his 280 passes for 2854 yards, 30 TDs, 7 INTs, as well as rushing 264 times for 1473 yards (5.6 avg) and 20 scores. He also caught 2 passes for 42 yards and another touchdown. He began his career at Florida as a backup to Tim Tebow. He spent two years as a reserve at Florida, playing in 6 games. He combined for 6 of 12 (50%) for 54 yards, as well as rushing 21 times for 113 yards (5.4 avg) and 4 touchdowns, primarily playing garbage minutes for the Gators. Newton had his share of controversy follow him throughout his collegiate career. He was suspended during his sophomore year at Florida after stealing a laptop, and allegedly what prompted his transfer from Florida was the potential for expulsion due to academic cheating. When it came time to leave Blinn, his father allegedly solicited between $100-180K to try and get Newton to go to MIssissippi State. Although it should be noted that there is no proof that anything nefarious occurred that led Newton to Auburn, or occurred once he arrived there. He hails from College Park, GA.
Newton is a winner, and he's going to win at the next level. HIs athletic skillset alone will allow him to win football games because he's almost impossible to defend. The main issue with Newton that also faced Vick and Young as their careers progressed is whether or not he's going to show the progression as a pocket passer to a point where his athletic skillset now becomes an asset like it is with Ben Roethlisberger or Aaron Rodgers, or rather a hindrance that makes him a bit easier to defend because he's less effective when confined to the pocket and forced to make quick, decisive throws. And the lack of significant major college experience limits how easily we can project that. He's a good kid, personable, and shows leadership, so in terms of character he's not a bad guy despite his off-field transgressions. I don't have serious doubts about his work ethic like with Vick or Young, but at the same time, I'm not convinced he's going to commit to being a pocket passer. And truthfully, as a pure pocket passer, he's very raw. He's mechanically sound as far as his release goes, but his footwork is bad, and he's used to having a lot of time to make decisions and making throws in large windows to wide open receivers. When the NFL game is sped up and the windows begin to close, is he going to be as effective throwing from the pocket, that becomes the big question. He'll win games and get his team to the playoffs probably more often than not, but how deep can they go when they get there? Because in the playoffs against quality defenses and offenses, his team will have to win with his arm and not relying on his legs to make plays. How well will he handle things like the blitz or increased pressure? Is he going to make his receivers around him better? These are the critical questions about Newton going forward, and with limited tape on him in college, and questionable maturity, it's very difficult to answer these questions. And everything becomes clear in hindsight, but five years from now are we going to look back on all these red flags that Newton and see that it was obvious that he wasn't going to live up to his potential? These red flags include his questionable decision making and accuracy, poor footwork, and questionable maturity that makes giving him a huge contract and making him the centerpiece of your franchise a bad idea. Ultimately, I think he'll be more effective than he is not, like Vick was throughout his career in Atlanta. But I don't think he has the elite potential to be a "championship-caliber" quarterback, but on his good days he'll be unstoppable. But most days he'll just be average to above average, and I wonder if he has the tools, maturity, and desire to get better than he'll make it so that his best days happen to come in January against premium competition. As far as his development goes, obviously the longer you work with him, the better for him, but his athletic ability is going to allow him to come in right away and play in the league and compete. You just might have to sit through a very mediocre rookie season where he makes a lot of mistakes as he transitions to the pro game. He'll probably throw his fair share of INTs, but he'll also make plays and on a bad team with a bad supporting cast that will be much more appreciated than a simple game manager. And he'll probably be more effective early in his career as it takes NFL defenses longer to adjust to him.
Newton would be a very tradeable asset in Atlanta. But truthfully, the Falcons would be better off trying to utilize his athleticism as a tight end. He could be dynamic there as an understudy to Tony Gonzalez. He'd be raw and probably take a few years to find his footing, but with his athleticism, offers Antonio Gates-like potential. But he has no desire to be anything other than a quarterback, so it would be a waste of a draft pick for the Falcons to try and convert him.
Newton definitely has Top 10 potential, but because of some red flags and a potential ceiling on how good a pocket passer he can be, he is probably worth a late first round pick. But because of his ability to come in right away and provide a spark to a bad team, it's doubtful he's not a Top 10 pick.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Arm Strength: 5.0
Decision Making: 2.0
Pocket Awareness: 2.5
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.