Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Cam Newton rebounds with strong pro day
By Tim Graham
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."