Mayock: Questions over Newton aren’t about talent

By all accounts, NFL draft prospect Cam Newton blew the doors off everyone in attendance at his media-only workout on Thursday. Our own Bucky Brooks was there, noting Newton looked “absolutely sensational.”

But for the NFL decision-makers who must ultimately evaluate Newton, how much stock is put into a controlled, scripted workout? How much was really learned about Newton that wasn’t known before, and how much could he really benefit?

All seem to be important questions. The answers, though, show Thursday might have had little bearing on Newton’s eventual draft status.

Draft analyst Mike Mayock wasn’t on hand for Newton’s workout, but weighed in on its impact.

“I really didn’t need to see the workout, nor do I need to hear about the workout, because I can tell you about the workout entailed,” Mayock said. “I would guarantee you he would look great in a pair of gym shorts, he would throw with accuracy and arm strength, and his mechanics are very good.

“But I would offer one cautionary note: That is the best pro day for a quarterback I ever attended was JaMarcus Russell. That same day, even though I admitted it was the best pro day I ever saw, I also said I wouldn’t take him in the first round. For me, it’s not about him throwing in shorts. It’s about a lot of other things.”

Charles Davis makes a great point in saying that this evaluation is probably shared around the league. Translation: For many, they already knew of Newton’s capabilities.

“They want to see him throw the ball at the combine with the other quarterbacks, and then they want to see him at the Auburn Pro Day,” Mayock said. “Even then, that’s not really going to tell the tale. He’s going to throw the ball beautifully in those controlled environments.

“To me, there are two issues with this kid. One, he came out of a shotgun (offense). … Can he adapt, can he process and assimilate a very structured and complex pro offense against a pro defense? Secondly and most importantly, when you get to a certain skill level in the NFL, which (Newton) certainly has at the quarterback position, what kind of kid is he? Is he going to be the first guy in the building, a gym rat, football smart and a leader of men? All of those things are more important to me than a workout in shorts.”

Indeed, one would expect that Newton would be impressive in such a workout, impressive doing all of the things he’s most comfortable doing. But Brooks did tell me he saw things from Newton he hadn’t seen, namely his ability to work from under center. But the questions about Newton aren’t necessarily about his physical skills.

To be fair, one of the critical questions asked of NFL prospects by teams is their passion and love for football. If nothing else, an upside for Newton is that he showed his commitment to preparing for his NFL career.

As part of the overall evaluation process, take Newton’s workout for what it’s worth.

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