Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Newton's media-driven workout could backfire

       Cam Newton has staged a media event for Thursday which is designed to demonstrate how much he’s progressed in his quest to become an NFL-ready quarterback. The timing and stated purpose of this is a bit curious to me.
       Newton, the Heisman Trophy winner and top gun for national champion Auburn, could have opted to put his wares on display at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis two weeks from now. It’s a good bet that he’ll be a no-show in Indy. Cam could’ve chosen to play in the two all-star games (East-West Shrine and Senior Bowl) that pro draft hopefuls typically compete in so that pro coaches can better assess the capabilities to play at the next level. Cam turned those down also.
       Instead, he’ll put on a pre-Combine workout at a high school in San Diego, Calif. Newton has been working with noted quarterback coach George Whitfield, whose name recognition escalated a few months back when he tutored Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger during his four-game suspension at the start of the NFL season last September.
       The idea is for Newton to show how far he’s come in adjusting his game from operating in a spread formation to running a pro-style offense. I realize how gifted Newton is. But spending a few weeks with a noted QB trainer isn’t likely to produce dramatic changes in footwork and technique in such a short period of time.
       Maybe the thinking is that with enough visible improvement, Newton will greatly enhance his draft position. Right now, he’s projected by most pundits as the likely tenth pick in the first round, which belongs to the Washington Redskins.
        It’s not unusual for top draft prospects to skip the Combine. The scouts will get their time to make their assessments of Cam after the Combine is over. Typically, there are individual workouts and also there’s pro day when the scouts visit Auburn.
       What I find most intriguing is that this workout is for media eyes only. The public is not invited. Pro scouts can’t attend because they are required by NFL mandates to wait until the Combine. According to one NFL insider, this workout could easily be perceived as an attempt by Team Newton to upstage the Combine.
       What’s the point? The implication here is that in some manner, the media, if it gives Cam glowing reviews, might somehow sway the perception of pro scouts before they can even take a look-see for themselves. If that turns out to be the case, Cam Newton might have more people rooting against him than for him.
       That would be a shame.

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