Newton more McNabb, less Russell says NFL exec

One of the more intriguing names in the upcoming 2011 NFL Draft is Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. Not only regarding where he’ll be drafted, but the inevitable comparisons to failed (so far) quarterbacks JaMarcus Russell and Vince Young.

One veteran personnel executive told NFL Network’s Albert Breer that Newton is much better than both of them.

“He’s significantly better than JaMarcus Russell and Vince Young were for a lot of reasons,” said the league source. “I’d put him somewhere in the (Steve) McNair, (Donovan) McNabb, (Josh) Freeman category. This kid showed more accuracy and better decision-making than Freeman did at (Kansas State), though in the end, Freeman might be more intelligent.

“He’s like McNabb, but McNabb’s shorter. What you have here is a giant. He’s 6-foot-6 and a lean 255 (pounds). He’ll be hard to sack like those guys were. I don’t know his smarts, he might be really intelligent, but I do think, like those three, even if he can’t pick apart a defense, he can buy time with his feet. Coverages are only made to hold up for four seconds or so … so like those guys, he can make time to find the open guy. And this guy has those guys’ leadership. I don’t think Vince or JaMarcus had it. Teammates follow (Newton).”

It’s not to suggest that Newton’s game is perfect. One scout was quick to point out that “the structure of that offense made him look more accurate than he is. It’s all play-action based, throwing to wide open receivers, with bubble screens that pad his numbers. He gets so much respect because of his athletic ability.”

A number of quarterback-hungry teams sit atop the NFL draft — Carolina, Buffalo and Arizona in the top five alone. Will one of them be willing to risk such a high pick on Newton?

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