SAN DIEGO -- Cam Newton's private workout in front of a media contingent was absolutely sensational.
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He made a strong statement about his future as an NFL quarterback by blowing the doors off a controlled workout orchestrated by his quarterback coach George Whitfield, Jr.
Although there weren't any scouts in attendance to report the results of the workout back to their respective teams, general managers, personnel directors and coaches will certainly be impressed by the video footage that eventually lands in their hands.
To frame the nature of the workout, it must be noted that private viewing was intended to show off Newton's progress in making the transition from operating in a spread offensive system to preparing to play in an NFL-style offense. He spent about 45 minutes going through a series of drills that showcased his athleticism, throwing mechanics, awareness, anticipation and instincts.
In individual drills, Newton displayed impressive athleticism, agility and movement skills while executing a series of drops (cross field and swivel drops) and air throws. He glides gracefully for a big man, and his ability to quickly change direction is a sign of his remarkable athletic talent.
As a passer, he showed exceptional arm strength, velocity and touch. He throws a tight spiral with outstanding zip and velocity. The ball flies out of his hand on a rope, and the slightly windy conditions didn't impact the speed or trajectory of his throws. When he moved on a series of drills designed to assess his touch, he effortlessly flicked the ball with arc and showed the ability to take some zip off his throws. He is capable of dropping the ball in the bucket on intermediate and deep throws with relative ease.
Newton looked very fluid and comfortable executing a series of three-, five- and seven-step drops. He routinely fielded snaps cleanly from center, and showed excellent quickness setting up in the pocket. His transitions were sound for the most part, but he could benefit from playing with a wider base due to the need to reset his feet quickly when pressured. He transferred his weight smoothly on throws to his right, and his pinpoint accuracy on those passes reflected his sound fundamentals. On throws to his left, however, he had a tendency to keep his front shoulder high, and his balls sailed on a few occasions. To his credit, he quickly corrected the flaw upon instruction, and his accuracy on those throws improved dramatically during the remainder of his workout.
Newton showed good awareness, anticipation and instincts while executing evasion and read drills. He quickly avoided simulated rushers from various angles, reset his feet and delivered accurate throws to moving targets. Although he still needs some skill refinement in this aspect, his athleticism and quickness should make it an easy flaw to remedy.
Newton anticipated open windows well during a series of read drills. He has a keen understanding for throwing to receivers in open areas, and his ability to deliver accurate passes in tight windows was impressive. He repeatedly hit moving targets on the proper shoulder, and his accuracy was effective considering that he conducted all of the throws while working from a conventional drop.
When moving on through the passing tree, Newton showed good timing, anticipation and awareness. He quickly retreated from center, and delivered the ball immediately upon hitting his final step. This was a slight improvement from the skills that he displayed on tape. During the season, he had a tendency to wait until the receiver was completely open before delivering the ball, but in his workout he threw the ball to spots and trusted his receivers to get there. If he is able to fully make this transition on the next level, his game could go from good to great based on his phenomenal skill set.
Newton's exceptional arm strength and touch stood out while executing vertical routes. He didn't have any problems throwing skinny posts, deep comebacks, seams and 9-routes against the wind. Given the difficulty that some quarterbacks have in inclement conditions, Newton's arm strength and touch should rate highly in the minds of evaluators.
In looking for areas that need continued improvement, Newton needs to continue to monitor his consistency with his weight transfer and lower body. He is so talented that he has a tendency to rely solely on his arm, and his refusal to incorporate his legs results in his balls sailing high on some throws. He also needs to work on throwing on the move. Although he didn't execute these kinds of throws during the workout, he has some misses that show up on tape that are concerning.
Overall, Newton's workout rates at an A- in my mind, and scouts will be impressed when they see him unveil his skills at the NFL Scouting Combine later this month. If he performs to this level during the combine workout, he will force many teams selecting within the top 10 of the draft to consider him as a franchise quarterback prospect.