I will preface this with the fact that I was not in attendance for Cam Newton’s workout Thursday afternoon and am drawing my conclusions from the workout’s video footage. However, with that being said, here is my take on his performance….
What I liked…
• For a guy his size there is some natural flexibility to his game. He looks comfortable sitting into his stance from under center, can fluidly open up his hips and generate good torque from his core when snapping off a throw.
• Looks natural cleanly getting away from the line of scrimmage after the snap. Is patient working the play-action fake and snaps his head around much quicker and more purposeful than during the season before calmly readying himself to throw.
• He spins a clean football. Newton grips the ball with ease and throws really seem to just jump out of his hands, quickly getting on his target. He can absolutely effortlessly make all the throws at the next level.
• Displays good coordination when asked to move around the pocket. Maintains his head/eye level when avoiding rushers, keeps the ball held high and cocked, and always seems set and ready to let go of the football.
• Exhibited good touch down the field on bucket throws. Did a better job transitioning his weight from his back leg more consistently and because of that looked more accurate throwing vertically down the field.
What I didn’t like…
• He still gets too narrow based and upright at times when he has time to stride toward his target. Doesn’t generate as much torque as he could from his lower half and gets caught at times throwing from the waist up and not bending enough at the knees.
• There are still too many inconsistencies with the placement of his plant leg. You want to see the quarterback pointing that front foot/leg in the direction he wants to throw the football. And too often Newton’s front foot is positioned behind — but at times in front of — his target, causing his ball placement to be high and slightly behind or in front of his target, depending on where his foot is placed.
• Finally, he still doesn’t exhibit much bend in his front leg when striding toward his target and throws consistently straight-legged. Now, Tom Brady is able to get away with it routinely in the NFL so I can’t be too critical in this area. However, instead of transferring his weight cleanly from his back foot to front foot with bend in his left knee, he seems content to simply just whip his back foot through, generating his torque that way on his stiff front leg. Again, when trying to get the ball out quickly during a game, you can find just about every quarterback resorting to that method from time to time. However, throwing straight-legged will take away from the maximum potential balance a quarterback can possess into a throw, minimizing accuracy/ball placement. This is the one flaw that does pop up in Newton’s play routinely — workout included — especially in the intermediate pass game, where lower body balance is critical.
Overall, it’s not too much different than what we saw from Newton on tape during the year, in my view. He’s a gifted athlete with a strong arm who can make all the throws. And he’s flexible/coordinated enough to certainly develop from under center, which we saw from him on Thursday. However, there are some inconsistencies from the waist down with his footwork which causes his accuracy/ball placement at times to run hot and cold.
I heard the quote afterward that there are only a certain number of athletes in the world that can throw a football like Newton, and I agree with that. But again that doesn’t mean the guy’s going to be a good starting quarterback in the NFL. The determining factor for Newton in my view still doesn’t have anything to do with his abilities on the field — as we know he possesses all the athletic tools to be as good as he wants — but everything to do with the way he’s going to carry/handle himself off the field in preparation for Sunday that will be the key.
And I’m still searching for that answer.
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