INDIANAPOLIS — The man who helped prepare Cam Newton for Sunday’s passing drills at the NFL Scouting Combine saw pretty much what the rest of us did: room for improvement.
“I would have liked to see him hit some more of those throws,” George Whitfield Jr., Newton’s personal quarterback guru, told me after watching his Heisman Trophy-winning student overthrow multiple receivers.
“It comes with the at-bats,” Whitfield added. “When you come out of the dugout and you go play, you have the potential to hit a home run and you’re going to strike out sometimes. He swung and missed on a few, but I don’t think it’s anything more than a few things that we can refine and get going.”
Whitfield, who is based in San Diego and worked with Newton for six weeks there before the combine, plans to travel to Alabama by the middle of this week to begin helping his pupil prepare for Auburn’s March 8 pro day.
“I thought (Sunday) was like a quiz,” Whitfield said. “There’s not a whole lot of stuff they ask, but it’s still important. The final exam’s a week and a half from now.”
Although he expects Newton, like any other college prospect, to be more comfortable in his “own lion’s den,” Whitfield refused to use the unfamiliar surroundings of Lucas Oil Stadium or the fact he was working with unfamiliar receivers as an excuse.
“The receivers, that’s par for the course; it’s no different than golfers having tough fairways,” he said.
Whitfield said he didn’t believe Newton “hurt himself” and “whatever he left on the table, performance-wise, hopefully” was off set by the fact that he fully participated in drills, something not all quarterbacks (such as Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert) did.
“I think those people that wanted to know how committed he is to the process, how willing he is to put himself out there in a risk-reward situation, and how competitive he is, all those are things he brought to the table (Sunday),” Whitfield said. “I loved the boldness in coming here, dedicating himself to the process and saying, ‘Hey, I’m going in.’ You want to put evidence out there.”