January 1, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) against the New Orleans Saints during the second quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

The Future of the NFL Starts with Cam Newton

Editor’s Note: It is my pleasure to introduce to you another new staff writer for CatCrave.com: Elijah

If you watch majority of your football on MUTE for some odd reason you may not have known
Cam Newton was a rookie in the NFL last season. Yet, majority of his play and the amazing ability he showed to be productive made him look like a 10 year veteran at times.

To say the young man looked comfortable would be too lazy of a word and an understatement. Newton was poised from Week 2 in Bank of America Stadium, (vs. defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers) to contend and prove with alacrity he was worth that Number 1 overall selection in 2011.

People questioned his passing ability coming out of Auburn, wondering if he will be able to run a pro-style offense. So he breaks Peyton Manning’s rookie single season record for passing yards, and puts a couple hundred on top of it. Try to tackle him like a Quarterback and he shows that 6’5, 250 pound frame will run over you and make you think he was a Running Back. After accounting for more rushing yards (706) than both starting running backs in next weekend’s Super Bowl XLVI (46) during the regular season, Cam was rewarded with a Pro Bowl trip to Hawaii. If DeAngelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart both can stay healthy and active members on the roster, the 2408 yards rushing the Panthers had at season’s end looks achievable yearly with Newton leading that three-headed monster backfield.

Let’s remember, a year ago in March, leading up to the NFL draft 2011, Mel Kiper Jr. had plenty of negative comments in projecting Cam Newton. The criticism and microscope has been on Cam for some time now so such things I’m sure fueled the fire. At one time Kiper had compared Newton to former Bengals 3rd overall selection Akili Smith. Smith is one of the biggest QB “Busts” ever drafted. Bottom line, he did not possess the physical size as Newton nor was he as skilled. Cameron Newton coming out of College was a Heisman Trophy winner, a BCS National Champion, and from his days at Blinn College all he did was win. My point is that you cannot compare Cameron Newton to any other prototypical QB. He is bigger, faster, an all-around a more gifted athlete than any QB. And if that’s the case, let’s compare him with two guys that did things in a similar fashion or style at the position. Randall Cunningham, there we go. Ok.

Randall Cunningham had some very successful seasons in the NFL, 10 years with the Philadelphia Eagles and a Pro Bowl redemption season with Minnesota in 1998. While an Eagle Cunningham accumulated 4 straight seasons of some very quality numbers that show his overall production. 2700+ yards passing, 20+ passing touchdowns, along with at least 500 yards rushing to go with 3+ rushing touchdowns four years straight. He never threw for over 3808 yards, and he never rushed for more than 6 touchdowns in a single season. Both totals Cam surpassed his rookie campaign. Randall did similar things but was not as big and powerful, more of a sprinter and could throw a mile on the run. Most of the success in Cunningham’s career came 1987-1995. Though most of his 16 year stay in the NFL Randall Cunningham was definitely unique and a talented player. Injuries ultimately plagued his later days and slowed him down. Oh yea, and he only played in 6 games as a rookie, starting 4.

I’m sure someone has already compared Cameron Newton to Mike Vick. Some may say Newton will never do what Vick did rushing yardage wise in a single season. In 2006 Mike Vick hit an all-time high before an eventual lifetime low. Rushing for 1,039 yards and passing for 2474, he accounted for 22 touchdowns and was getting this same article written about him by a 6 year younger version of me. Then most know how the bad story with Vick ends in ATL and then after redemption of his own with Philadelphia, Vick looks ready to continue evolving as a passer. Unlike Newton though he has never rushed for more than 9 touchdowns or thrown for more than 3400 yards in a single season. In fact before Vick came to the tutelage of Andy Reid he had never thrown over 3000 yards in a single season. Vick also needs to stay healthy. In 9 NFL seasons he has only played 4 full years. He has played in 12 and 13 games in back-to-back seasons as a starter for the Eagles.

A common theme with most running, scrambling quarterbacks is injuries either stop them or gradually slow them down. Any injury can stop any player, but the type of game we see Cam Newton so successful in takes that chance. One thing I do believe though is the size that Newton has will help him if he continues running the way he does. Along with his ability to keep plays alive because of his feet and strength draws me to compare him to Ben Roethlisberger. Very big for a QB, hard to take down and has a cannon arm. Newton also has competitive edge you don’t see in too many rookies. He hates to lose and that shows me he should be putting in work to get even better. Imagine what the Carolina offense will look like with full camps, and a summer of work together being lead by Cam Newton.

You look at all of those quarterbacks mentioned and even the best QBs in the NFL. Each has things they do extremely well. Some can just pass in the pocket, and a clean pocket at that. Others are more comfortable on the run or moving a certain direction. Tom Brady is one of a kind. He has so many good things working for him combined with his drive and work ethic it can only equal success for his team if you do not stop him individually. Even better you need someone who can match what he is doing. The evolution of the position of QB can only go now to a player who can do it all. Not just throw for 500 yards in a game to win if you have to but also have the athletic ability and size to take off for a 50 yard run that breaks it open and fly into the end zone. Looks like the Panthers may have played the lottery and hit the jackpot. Imagine if Newton consistently goes out and does what he did his rookie season year after year. That would be how he would reach the Icon status he is infatuated with acquiring. It would also prove that he may be the one who brings in the next generation of NFL fans and followers. That’s why I hope he does reach what goals he has set for himself in the NFL. The type of drive and competitive edge he has means those goals are bigger than anyone could imagine. This may be good for the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte, NC seeing that his TD celebration has shown us hints as to who he may be outside of the NFL!

Elijah also writes for Keeping it Heel, and UNC Fansided Blog. Also, be sure to Like us on FaceBook, and follow us @CatCraveBlog on Twitter.

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