Last night some of you all may have seen Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton play in the BCS National Championship game. The game itself wasn't all too exciting until late in to the 4th quarter. In the beginning of the game, much of the focus was on the Heisman Trophy winning quarterback. Steadily throughout, the focus shifted to freshman running back Michael Dyer who ran for 143 yards and was literally less than a yard short from scoring the game-winning touchdown run in the final seconds.
In retrospect, Newton had a pretty decent game hitting most of his targets. There were a few very bad passes though, and his accuracy may be in question as it wound up below the 60% mark for the game. There was a pass in particular that really stood out to me as he missed a wide open target in the endzone when he short hopped it as the 2nd quarter closed out. Maybe it was a case of over-thinking it, or maybe not. Whatever the case, it definitely sent off red flags for some I am sure. He had 265 yards through the air, but much of that came on yards after the catch by the guys on the other end of those passes. He did manage to get the ball in the endzone for six on two occasions through the air. He also threw an interception and got lucky earlier in the game when Oregon's freshman cornerback, Cliff Harris would have had his first of two picks in the game but was ruled out by the officials.
There is no question that Newton is an incredible athlete. But there's much to fulfill if he is going to be an elite quarterback at the next level. We have seen Heisman Trophy winners at the next level and typically, for whatever reason, a majority of them never make it in to that "elite" category.
With that, the next question is; will Cam Newton be selected in the 1st round still? If so, where will he go? Who will he go to? Will he be an immediate starter?
All of those questions, lead me to another question and possibly more important to those who consider themselves 49ers Faithful; with Jim Harbaugh now officially the San Francisco 49ers new head coach, would Cam Newton be a guy that would be considered in the west-coast-offense? My thoughts on this lean towards the answer no. After being hammered after the Denver Broncos selected Tim Tebow as the 25th pick in last years draft, and my slamming of him in a vast majority of the off-season discussion, I have to now look at things with an anything is possible approach.
Whether or not Newton will have success at the next level will ultimately be up to him. There is no question that he has some of the tangibles, and intangibles of what it takes to be a good NFL quarterback. In fact, as of now, he has the opportunity to be better than a Josh Freeman or Ben Roethlisberger type of quarterback. Like Michael Vick has done, Newton with no question will need to turn his focus to the passing game as well as the study of it. With a pass first mentality, and a hard work ethic, Newton can be successful in the NFL. He has potential... but as they say, potential doesn't mean anything until one lives up to it.