Cam Newton spoke with the press yesterday at the 2011 NFL Combine and CBS Sports has posted video of the press conference. I've also posted the press conference transcript after the jump, courtesy of Hogs Haven. The best line in HH's post was that you really should picture this when reading the transcript.
As we head towards the draft, while I don't want to overload the site with Cam Newton posts, this particular weekend it seems especially pertinent. Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke are holding their cards close to their chest when it comes to the quarterback position. We'll hear more and more about Newton's workouts, but who knows what will happen come draft time. This is also pertinent because the better Newton looks the higher his draft stock will rise. If he can climb into the top six, that drops other talent to the 49ers. So whether you're a Newton fan or not, you should probably be rooting for him to have a succession of strong performances and interviews over the next seven weeks.
For now, opinions of his performance thus far today are not glowing. One scout that supposedly does not have a short or long term need for a QB said Newton looked terrible. Newton's coach George Whitfield said in regards to his combine performance:
"It was a pop quiz, and he didn't ace it," Newton's QB coach,George Whitfield, Jr. told USA TODAY's Jim Corbett. "But his final exam is in a week and a half.
"He was off on some of his accuracy. With some regularity and more work, he can correct that. ... I'm just really proud of him for coming out today. He didn't score a knockout. But at least he put on the gloves.
"Some guys didn't.''
Certainly interesting that he would take a shot at Blaine Gabbert, or at least appear to with the gloves comment. It sounds like Newton was off on his accuracy in the passing drills, which isn't exactly shocking. He finished with a 4.59 40 time, a vertical leap of 35 inches, and a 10 1/2 foot broad jump (apparently a foot longer than Tim Tebow last year).
For those watching NFL Network coverage, did you get a chance to see much of Newton?
"First and foremost I understand that my obligation is to be the best possible football player that I can be. I know and believe that. The recent comments were made during the announcement of my new endorsement partnership. I was making the point that I want to be the best possible ambassador for them just as like I want to be best possible ambassador for whatever team I am lucky enough to play for. Im excited to compete this week. And you will see me doing everything possible to become the best player I can possibly be. First and foremost, im blessed to be in this whole situation and I couldn't be in a better place right now than I am right now."
On Warren Moon being his advisor.
"Just having Warren as a person, first off, that I look up to. Warren has been special for me, just to be a hands-on person to say his experiences during this time that he waas going through. I call warren text himi and hes always available. No matter the occeassion is. He's always ears first and then he tells me what he feels like his best advice would be."
On the need to have an opening statement and what type of response have you had this week from your comments about being an entertainer, an icon.
"For me, seeing how it did happen, I felt it was somewhat misunderstood. It was partly my mistake in not making myself clear and that was my fault."
What have these last few months been like with the Heisman and the national championship
"For me, it's been extremely exciting. This whole path to where I am right now has been something of a whirlwind to say the least, but at the same time this is what I signed up for. Im blessed. I cant even say that enough. To know that I'm sitting in front of you guys, talking to you guys, and to know 365 days ago right now I was attending class at Auburn. Even the Auburn fans didn't even know what they was getting at this time last year. It's a wonder what God can do in a person's life ... this fast."
On the decision making process to throw at the combine and do everything this week
"My biggest thing first is to prepare for the NFL. I know it's going to be a challenging transition. I have been working out with three unbelievable coaches. George Whitfield, my quarterback coach. Doug Hicks, my trainer and conditioning coach. And also Ron Sheffield, my speed coach. During that time I felt as though I wanted to do something at the Combine. I wanted to come out here and compete, because that's what I feel like I wanted to do ... have fun competing."
On if he feels like people mistake your confidence for cockiness.
"I'm not sure. I'm a confident person. It was instilled in me at a young age to believe in myself first and foremost. Because if I don't believe in myself who do I expect to believe in myself."
What's going to be the most difficult part of the transition for you, playing under center or some other part of the game.
"I'm not sure. I was hoping you were going to tell me that." (laughing) "For me I'm just going to continuously keep working on my craft. And that's to become the best quarterback possible during this transition.
Obviously, everybody knows that Cam has been in a spread offense and I have been trying to work as much as possible on trying to be fluid in coming from under center, with the three-step game, the five-step, also the seven-step drop. Me and George has been working day and night in the film room, on the chalk board or on the field throwing rocks."
On how high do you think you should be drafted.
"I'm not sure, sir. But like I said, that's not my sole focus. I'm trying to be the best player that I can be."
If he is going to continue to have pro days after this
"I'm a competitor. That's what I do. For anybody to know me, they know I like to compete. That's why I'm going to participate in all the activities tomorrow. Also, our Pro Day for Auburn is March 8. I will be participating in that also."
On why he is working out in San Diego instead of some other big facility
"For me, I felt like it was best for me to be isolated. I know myself and I know how focused I needed to be, especially during this time, making the biggest interview of my whole life. I needed to be more focused than ever. I felt that going to San Diego, I really didn't know nothing about it. But it's excellent weather, waking up to that beautiful sun was something in itself. I was motivated to be great and that's what I am trying to do."
(Do you think in light of you comments about being an entertainer and an icon, do you feel like you have to prove to team in interview rooms that football is your number one priority)
"Well, football is my No. 1 priority. I want to make that perfectly clear. But I'm just going to go into wherever organization that I'm picked up I'm going to be lucky, I'm going to be happy because this is a dream that I've always envisioned myself doing. And I will be lucky but at the same time this is something I am looking forward to."
(What has the atmosphere been like in the interviews with the teams.)
"It was something that you had to question yourself as an overall athlete. I'm pretty sure everybody in the combine was going through that process asking themselves the question, like is this really what I want to do. Because right after each meeting the horn blows to give you somewhat of a notice that you have two minutes left. And the coaches are asking questions like left and right, left and right, left and right. And as soon as that meeting is done, you shake your hands and you get right out and you go to the next place. And as soon as you walk into to that next place, you do the same thing over. But one thing I can say for each an every team they keep you on our toes. It's been somewhat fun for me, to be eager to know or to try to expect what the next team is going to say or what they are going to have me try to do. It's been a fun experience so far."
"I did have a meeting with the Cowboys last night for 15 minutes. It was one of those teams that I did speak with. As far as any teams right now ... I'm not going to get particular (about) which teams that I'm interested in because right now I'm interested in every single team that's in the NFL who's willing to take me as a player."
"During this whole process with the whole NCAA it's been somewhat of me facing adversity. And I think I owe a whole lot of my due diligence to my supporting cast, my teammates, my coaching staff, my close friends, my family members and just people that has been available for me to talk to in the wee nights of the hour and just being available. The relationship with my father is one that was already good before this whole adversity thing came up with the NCAA and with this whole NCAA thing swarming around my family and everybody that was affiliated with me it just brought me and my father closer together."
(If teams have asked him about the accusations about his father and his recruitment at Auburn and Mississippi State)
"Yes, sir, the question has been asked. My father is just like any other father that wants the best for his son. He wants to see his son succeed in every way possible."
(How would you describe your personality? You have had a lot of scrutiny and you seem like a pretty laid-back guy.)
"Well, for me, my biggest thing at this combine is to compete, to go against the best collegiate athletes in America. I'm walking down the hall and I see Mr. (Blaine) Gabbert. And I'm walking down the hall and I see Mr. A.J. Green, Julio Jones, all those guys and I'm just scratching my head. I see Da'Quan Bowers. Those guys are some excellent athletes. And Im just blessed to be in the same setting as those guys because I watch those guys highlight tapes (and) I'm amazed. I'm just humbled to the fact that everybody... One guy had mentioned it in a meeting, he said the NFL doesn't owe anybody nothing. With Cam Newton or without, the NFL will be. And I'm just honored to have this
opportunity to be going into the NFL."
(What do you say to anyone who has questions about your character or your past?)
"My biggest thing is everybody has a learning process that they go through. For me, that learning process happened three years ago, the mistakes that I made Florida, the trials an tribulations that I went through at Blinn College, has made me the person that I am today. I can say with my chin high to the sky and say that, if I could do it all over again, I couldn't say that I wouldn't do the same things because those same mistakes that I made at Florida now if that opportunity presents itself, I wouldn't do that because I know what happens if you do the things that I did at Florida."
(What have you learned about the expectations of being a franchise quarterback, the scrutiny this week and how one thing that you say has the potential to create a firestorm, how do you put that into perspective?)
"Well, first off, the biggest thing for going into this whole transition into the NFL, I think, it preparation. I admire the guys like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, who is a professional at what the do. No offense to those guys, but they might not run the fastest 40, they may not jump the highest in this year's combine, they might not jump the farthest in the broad jump, but I guarantee you from what I've heard from their teams, you're not going to outwork them. They're in the film study or they're watching film before the offensive coordinator is watching film. So I respect somebody that treats their job they way they go about handling it each and every day."
(You mentioned the mistakes at Florida. I've heard two things, that you did steal the laptop and that you did steal things out of your teammates locker. Are either of those stories true?)
Sir, I'm going to let you know right now what I did in the past is in the past. My sole focus is to perform at this year's Combine. I'm not going to entertain anything that happened in my past. I'm all about the future. I'm trying to prepare today to make my future as best as it can be."
"How do you compare yourself to the other quarterbacks in this draft?)
"I really don't know. A lot of things that separate you apart from other people is being accepted to the Combine. I'm one of the lucky few guys that had this opportunity. Im looking at Rayn Mallett, and he's a big guy. I played against his this year and he makes some unbelievable throws. I'm just going to continuously work on my craft throughout the day to make me a better person. I'm not really focused on comparing myself to this person or comparing myself to that person. I'm just going to continue to focus on Cam Newton to make him the best person that he can be."
Again, I thought Cam did really well today except for the 3rd person stuff. He was polite, entertaining, and confident. Having said that, I think the Redskins should pass.