Cam Newton, winner of the Heisman Trophy and quarterback of Auburn’s national championship team, was the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, and a quick pick by the Carolina Panthers at that.
The team might not have been terribly reassured after one of his first post-pick comments, though. “We’re going on vacation,” he told the NFL Network after being picked. Maybe it was nerves. Maybe he was just slipping into “icon and entertainer” mode. Maybe it was sheer relief (he did speak of feeling as if a bear been lifted from his back). Maybe he was just joking. He was being interviewed by Deion Sanders. But no one wants to hear the franchise quarterback talk about taking time off already and by the time he got to the interview room, he was composed and refocused.
“Everybody is not just going to stop and say, ‘That’s Cam, the No. 1 pick, and we can leave him alone,’ ” Newton said. “If anything, the floodgates have officially opened.”
Jon Gruden says Newton is a lot like Donovan McNabb, for both better and worse:
The biggest challenge for Cam is to get into a more conventional style of offense, where you’re going to get in the huddle and call more plays. Not everything comes from the sidelines in the no-huddle scheme. You’re playing with a different tempo. Everything they did at Auburn was high-voltage, great velocity, up-and-at-’em every snap. In pro football, it’s a little bit more calculated because you’re getting in the huddle, calling plays, giving alerts, previewing audibles and things of that nature. You’re going to have to take more snaps from center and you’re going to have to rework some of your fundamentals in throwing the football. You’re also going to have to learn to read defenses because people play you differently when you play the style that you played at Auburn. I think he’s going to have some transition learning a new offense. He doesn’t have a lot of playing experience in his background, but I think he’s got real ambition, talent and rare physical traits.
Newton reminds me of Donovan McNabb. Donovan ran the freeze option at Syracuse and, with a year as an understudy, he was able to use his lower-body strength and exceptional athletic ability to dominate in Philadelphia for over a decade.