Following the Auburn workout Tuesday, I didn’t want to have any knee-jerk reactions concerning the performance of Cam Newton. Newton has been exactly what I thought he would be throughout the postseason process, but I wanted to evaluate his pro day with an open mind.
ICONAre Newton and the Redskins a match?
Physically, I honestly believe the guy has the pure athletic skill set to be the best quarterback in the NFL. However, much like JaMarcus Russell, that doesn’t mean all that much. When watching Newton throw during his workout it’s effortless the way the football jumps out of his hands. I came away impressed with his ability to stay balanced when moving around in the pocket, he gets the ball out quickly and without a doubt has the ability to make every throw in the book with ease. The former Auburn standout was impressive when asked to stick the deep comeback and despite sailing some throws, he definitely looks like a guy who can fit the football down the field on the seam read.
However, the biggest question mark I took away from the workout was his ability to comfortably operate from under center, maintain balance in his drop and accurately deliver the football on time. When working in the three- and five-step game, you can tell he’s a natural athlete with good bend sitting under center and quickly is able to get away from the line of scrimmage. However, when getting into his drop he really struggles to balance himself on his final two steps — both in the three- and five-step game — and allows himself to really get overextended with his footwork/base. And because of all this additional width between his legs, he seems a bit slow trying to reset his feet and get the ball out on time. Hence the reason for his struggles with the placement of his plant leg, which is why his ball placement is inconsistent when he has to get the ball out on time once his back foot hits the ground.
What is also noticeable though is that when Newton has time to collect himself and hitch into throws or work the vertical passing game on bucket throws, his accuracy is much better because he’s able to collect himself and regain balance with his lower half.
Now, is his footwork something that can be fixed? I think so, but it’s going to take a lot of work and grinding in the offseason, and I don’t know if Newton is the type of guy willing to put in the type of effort concerning the finer details of the game to really improve from the waist down. And in my view his inconsistent footwork/accuracy is something that will follow him throughout his NFL career.
Therefore, what is the best way to get the most out of Cam Newton?
In my view, the Washington Redskins.
ICONNewton would fit Shanahan's offense perfectly.
Whenever you watch a Mike Shanahan-coached offense the two things you instantly notice are…
1. They want to run the zone read to the edge and force defenses to defend the perimeter.
2. They want to work off boot action, get their quarterback outside the pocket and give him a chance to create big plays with the opposing defense flowing the other way.
Click here to see a chalkboard breakdown of the Redskins' boot scheme from the NFP's Matt Bowen.
And in my mind this would be a perfect fit for Newton because of not only his ability to cleanly work out of the play-action game, but he’s certainly athletic enough to give you a run/pass threat once he gets outside the pocket. Plus, he possesses the touch to make plays down the field. I came away really impressed with his ability to throw on move, displaying good zip/torque from his hips as he spun the football working both to his right and left. Newton also did a really nice job quickly squaring his shoulders and just looked so much more comfortable when being asked to decipher info on the move and create than trying to simply be a pocket passer.
The second major reason I really like Newton in Shanahan’s offense is the fact that he comes from a spread and has never really been asked to work his way through progressions quickly across the field and there’s going to be a major learning curve for him to develop as an NFL pocket passer. Therefore, working in the boot action game, he not only gets to be able to get outside the pocket and work on the move, but the field is cut in half, he’s asked to decipher typically only a high/low read, making his life much easier when trying to get the football down the field.
Now, this doesn’t mean Newton won’t have to make plays from the pocket from time to time, but Shanahan’s offense allows him to use his athletic ability more so than most offenses, allowing him the opportunity to create bigger plays down the field on the perimeter, where at this stage he looks/feels more comfortable.
Newton is an extraordinary athlete who possesses a really unique skill set, and although I don’t feel he’s is a fit for most offenses in the NFL, if I were the Redskins, the idea of seeing this physical freak on the edge and working off the boot action game isn’t only intriguing, but in my view it would also give Newton the best chance of success in the NFL.