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Friday, April 29, 2011
Is it Mechanics, Wonderlic Ethnicity or What?
Cam Newton has come under criticism since his surge to prominence as a championship quarterback. Most criticism has been centered around his low Wonderlic score, his QB session with Jon Gruden and his supposed mechanics and style as a run first QB. The latter is a misrepresentation, the Wonderlic is a joke and the Jon Gruden is an entertainment session in sports that has yet to verify the success trend of level of a young NFL quarterback in his transition from college to the NFL.
So the next question is the most politically incorrect question available. Is this because he is an unproven African American quarterback going into the league as the most recent Heisman Trophy winner, National Championship MVP who happens to be Black in a society that wants to think they are contemporary, fair and non-bias, while actually spelling out the true sentiment of how far we have not come? At any other time other than Charlie Ward, who made it clear he was going to the NBA, have we ever assumed that the reigning Heisman winner should not be the top candidate for the #1 pick in the NFL draft.
Out of no where came Blaine Gabbert who was only a Big 12 honorable mention in his conference as a viable NFL quarterback candidate and now as the top QB candidate for this year's draft. Immediately, various analyst began defining the deficiencies in Cam's game, rather the potential for his success in the NFL.
The draft has always and will always be about the potential of any athlete and the negatives are a given considering the that all former superstar QB's and the current stars of the game have all had learning curves that have developed into marquee labels. The culture of winning is one of the most needed attributes in the transition and Newton brings that culture with having been a part of three National Championship seasons at three different programs in as many years.
Jake Locker, Andy Dalton, Blaine Gabbert and Christian Ponder are all be given "upside" projections for their quick development with emphasis on their winning mentality, with two of them being given average arm strength and all having a need to develop and mature into their roles. Each a first round pick, has no level of achievement greater that Cam Newton, but each appears to be projected to become successful quarterbacks without little doubt of failure. Newton is being given a "feast or famine", "Stardom to Bust" and "All or Nothing" evaluation.
And please spare me the Wonderlic as ESPN Analyst Tim Hasselback recorded a 23, Brett Farve 22, Vince Young, Dan Marino, Randall Cunningham Jim Kelly and Terry Bradshaw each clocked 15, Donovan McNabb 14. While Alex Smith with a 40 and Matt Leinart at 35 have struggled in the transition to the NFL. The NFL it supposed to be a problem for a QB scoring below 24. Sounds like a minor flaw in the system or the rationalization of the value of the test. This year's stars resulted with Gabbert at 42, Ponder 35, Ryan Mallett 26, Newton 21 and Locker 20.
Top NFL executives of player personnel and NFL draft analyst say that what makes Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers and Drew Brees great is their work ethic and that they work harder at their position than anyone else. Is it becoming clear yet......we have to wait and let the guy study, train, workout, play and then decide if he has the work ethic and transferable skills, including mentality to star at the next level. It would be irresponsible to mention the "race card", but being the only African American QB prospect at this level, we have to be careful not to imply it either.