AFC East: George Whitfield

Cam Newton rebounds with strong pro day

March, 8, 2011
Auburn quarterback Cam Newton gave the NFL a little more to think about Tuesday.

Buffalo Bills general manager Buddy Nix and vice president of college scouting Tom Modrak were in Jordan-Hare Stadium for Newton's pro day workout. They had to walk away impressed.

Newton rebounded from a disappointing performance at the NFL scouting combine nine days earlier to complete 50 of his 60 passes in scripted drills. Three of his 10 incompletions were dropped. He then took requests from NFL coaches who wanted to see him make a few more specific throws.

At the combine, Newton connected on only 11 of his 21 throws to a collection of receivers he didn't know.

Newton was in a comfort zone Tuesday. The Heisman Trophy winner had to deal with a steady wind, but he had his own receivers in his home stadium. Personal coach George Whitfield Jr. ran the drills.

"For those that were really curious about that acclimation to a five-step game, coming out from under the center," Whitfield said, "I think he really answered the question if you had one choice in this year's draft of getting a quarterback to anchor your franchise for years to come -- whether you're an outdoor city or you're playing in a physical [division] -- he really, really pushed that needle in that direction today just with sheer power, sheer velocity. He was accurate. He was consistent."

Before every throw, Newton took a direct snap from Auburn center Ryan Pugh to demonstrate how he would look in a traditional pro-style offense.

Many of the throws were high-percentage. Some were designed to showcase his footwork in the pocket before passing to stationary targets.

A few of his passes sailed like they did in Indianapolis, but he wasn't nearly as wild. He zipped tight spirals time and again and connected on his first 19 attempts before a ball hit the ground.

"I just wanted to come out here and be more consistent," Newton said afterward. "That's what me and George have been working on since Day 1, working on my craft to be better. Today was another day to get better."

Dilfer: NFL will drool over Cam Newton

February, 10, 2011
Trent Dilfer spent the past week breaking down Auburn quarterback Cam Newton's game film.

Dilfer wanted to be prepared for what he would observe Thursday at Newton's media workout Thursday in San Diego.

Dilfer wasn't adequately prepared. He was blown away.

"He's going to skyrocket up the boards," Dilfer said.

The Buffalo Bills might have a big decision to make on Newton when they draft third overall. Even if they're happy with Ryan Fitzpatrick for now, a dynamic quarterback is needed to challenge for the AFC East title, let alone a Super Bowl.

The Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos aren't expected to take a quarterback when they pick first and second. But Dilfer stated Newton will give every team something to consider as long as he remains on the draft board.

"The ceiling is so astronomically high for this player, Cam Newton, that the scouts, the GMs, the coaches are really going to be slobbering about the prospects of having him on their team," Dilfer said.

Thursday's workout was a preview of what teams will see in two weeks at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.

Dilfer shared his thoughts on Newton's display.

"A few things jumped out at me," Dilfer said. "First of all, his physical prowess, his stature. I mean, Cam Newton is a giant, giant man. He dwarfed me, and I'm 6-4, 240 pounds. Just the presence was amazing.

"The other thing was how the ball jumped off his hand. This is a guy that has a powerful arm. George Whitfield, his quarterback coach, has done a masterful job, coaching him from the feet up. He showed great balance. He showed great foot energy, as he did drop back and take snaps from under center.

"The third thing is that he has quarterback-passer DNA, and that's the thing we weren't sure about him because he was such a great athlete. This is a guy that in his workout threw about 30 very challenging throws, and each one of those throws he kept his eyes down the center of the football field, spun his eyes back to the perimeter and delivered the ball early with anticipation. This is a gifted, gifted passer."

ESPN reporter Shelley Smith, her hair flying in the wind as she asked, wondered how impressive a workout in shorts and a T-shirt really was.

"These were challenging throws," Dilfer countered. "These were throws down the football field into a pretty stiff wind. ... This wind is blowing probably 10, 15 mph in his face. He knifed the ball through the wind. He controlled it very well. The ball spins very well off his hand."