Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

07 Dec 2010

Newton, James Lead Heisman Finalists

The four Heisman finalists were announced today. National Championship-bound quarterback Cam Newton (Auburn) and running back LaMichael James (Oregon) lead a group of four rounded out by Stanford's Andrew Luck and Boise State's Kellen Moore.

"Since I was a young boy, playing the game of football has been a pure joy and this season has been a very special one for my teammates and for me," Newton said in one of his few statements since pay-to-play allegations surfaced against him. "I know as a team we're excited to get back on the field on January 10 against a great Oregon team."

On the field, Newton threw for 2,589 yards and 28 touchdowns while running for 1,409 yards and 20 more scores. He even had a receiving touchdown for fun.

James was the main man in Oregon's electric offense, leading the nation with with 1,682 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground.

Posted by: David Gardner on 07 Dec 2010

8 comments, Last at 08 Dec 2010, 2:40pm by Karl Cuba


by Whatev :: Tue, 12/07/2010 - 12:48pm

I bet Reggie Bush will be very upset if Newton wins the thing.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 12/07/2010 - 2:30pm

It looks to me like the first two picks in the draft will be Luck and Newton. At the moment Detroit hold the second pick and may get the opportunity to auction off Newton to the highest bidder.

by bubqr :: Tue, 12/07/2010 - 3:55pm

Heard a lot about Newton, but haven't watched any college football this year: How is he looking as a pro prospect, to who would you compare him ?

by Dean :: Tue, 12/07/2010 - 4:51pm

He's a bigger, faster Tim Tebow. I don't see NFL accuracy in the arm. No idea what his completion percentage is, but just the impression from watching him play is that he's scattershot. He's in the shotgun/pistol every play, so who knows if he can take a dropback or not.

Honestly, I see a guy who looks like he could be a great tight end. He's lined up at WR on occasion, but he's way to big to be a WR.

by Jovins :: Tue, 12/07/2010 - 5:52pm

Considering Michael Vick was a top 5 pick, I find it hard to believe Cam Newton won't be. Reading the articles on ESPN about him, he's a more polished passer then either Vince Young or Michael Vick were, with better pocket presence, and he reads the field better.

Comparing him to Tim Tebow isn't accurate. Tebow has/had horrible mechanics and never showed the ability to make reads. Newton has much better mechanics, and (again, according the the article to which I'm too lazy to link) he's actually making reads.

by dbostedo :: Tue, 12/07/2010 - 9:01pm

His completion percentage is an excellent 67.1% this year. He's also got a YPA of over 10, which is very good. Also, the shift in the NFL to a lot more shotgun helps alleviate any concern about not being able to drop back.

Sam Bradford, in his last full college season had a completion percentage of 67.9% and a YPA of 9.77. He also was almost purely a shotgun type QB. Of course, he had done it for more than one season at that level. But he didn't have anywhere near Newton's running skills.

Tim Tebow was at 67.8% and 9.22 his last year.

I have no idea on the mechanics, leadership skills, football acumen, or other things scouts look for. But it seems like at a base level he may be a very high pick.

by Dean :: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 10:36am

Tebow was a high pick, too. So was Tavarris Jackson (not that I think the two players are comparable).

It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Newton go high in the draft. At this point, I have a lot of questions. I will say, though, that 67.1 is an outstanding number and a hell of a lot higher than I expected it to be.

Somebody will give him a shot at QB. And if he succeeds, they'll look like geniuses for it. But I think his best position would be TE, assuming, of course, that he can catch.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 12/08/2010 - 2:40pm

OK, my two cents on Newton. Firstly, his line is very good, whenever you see him throw he seems to have forever to sit in the pocket surveying the field. However, his height, especially when comparing him to Vick, means that he can actually see over the pass rush and when he does throw the ball his release is compact and he gets good velocity on the ball. I haven't seen enough of him to know how good his touch is but I have seen him make a few good throws where he placed the ball over the underneath coverage on the rail down the sideline.

His chances in the pros will be improved by the increasing prevalence of the shotgun, Vick was hurt in Atlanta by Gregg Knapp's determination to make him a 49er-offense style quarterback where the entire offense was reliant on his footwork, though it's also clear that he wasn't working hard enough and had other distractions.

Newton appears to have all the tools to be worthy of a top pick, the key will be whether he has the work ethic and desire to be great. Almost all the great qbs work at it and that's something you can't tell from watching him on the field.