The Carolina Panthers are the defending NFC South champions and have a superstar quarterback on their roster. However, before Cam Newton was drafted No. 1 overall in 2011 to lead them back to relevance he had been overlooked by NFL teams for years because of his age and size. The scouting process is much different now than it once was with players like Newton being given more attention from day one through an extensive physical and psychological evaluation that can take up as long as two months – if not longer – while they’re waiting for the draft.
The “what team is cam newton on” is a question that has been asked for quite some time. The Carolina Panthers have released an article about how they vet their quarterback, Cam Newton. This article gives insight into how NFL teams evaluate QBs.
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — The Carolina Panthers were packed in a room at Bank of America Stadium, less than 48 hours before the 2011 NFL Draft. As first-year head coach Ron Rivera and his staff argued whether Auburn quarterback Cam Newton met all of the criteria to be the first overall choice, tensions were obvious.
It was “extremely volatile,” as one observer put it.
Despite months of preparation, private workouts, conversations only a select few were aware of, and a scout committed to talking to Newton nearly daily, some questioned if the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner was the appropriate fit and had concerns about his decision-making on and off the field. Some questioned if Newton’s unique approach as a dual-threat quarterback would help him succeed.
“I became pissed off as we were driving back and forth and I continued listening to all this criticism,” Rivera, now the coach of the Washington Commanders, recounted. “‘Let me f—-ing tell you something,’ I said. I’ve only heard what he can’t do. I understand. However, tell me what he is capable of. ‘Tell me what he’s good at.’ That’s exactly what I needed to know.
“I mean, I was furious because I thought this guy was going to bring us to the Super Bowl.”
Newton won the league MVP award in 2015 and led Carolina to Super Bowl 50.
Using a microscope
For all positions, the screening process is rigorous, but none is more so than quarterback. Because he will most likely become the face of the club, organizations want to make sure the athlete is as excellent a person as he is a player.
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“Without a question,” stated Brandon Beane, the general manager of the Buffalo Bills, when he was Carolina’s director of football operations in 2011. “It’s such a crucial issue.” There’s a lot more on the line when you choose a quarterback.”
The quarterback class for this year, like the one for 2011, isn’t exceptionally good. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has no quarterback in this year’s class rated higher than Liberty’s Malik Willis at No. 16, who had Newton placed 12th on his big board 11 years ago.
That’s why clubs looking for a franchise quarterback are scouting Willis, Kenny Pickett of Pittsburgh, Matt Corral of Ole Miss, and others.
“The quarterback position almost seems presidential or some sort of royalty,” said Khari Darlington, a former Carolina scout who shadowed Newton from mid-January until the April draft. “There’s a lot of labor that goes into it.”
“However, I find it difficult to conceive that it would ever reach the degree of intensity that came with judging Cam.”
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“The room was almost deafeningly quiet,” Darlington recalled. “I simply popped my head up and said, ‘I can’t say I wouldn’t,’ after all the muttering and quiet.”
Hurney approached Darlington after the meeting and questioned whether he meant what he said. “Absolutely,” Darlington said, “and he just shook his head and muttered, ‘Yeah,’ and walked away.”
Rivera summoned Darlington to his office later that day and handed him his mission.
“I don’t believe I’ve ever graded someone who was more divisive in my whole career,” Darlington added. “You had folks on the other side of the fence that adored him in every way. Then there were the men who weren’t on board for whatever reason and didn’t like him as a person.
“There was a lot of juicy, unpleasant stuff about him.” As a result, it was necessary to track down all of the spirits.”
Newton’s coaches, teammates, and friends at the institutions he attended: Florida, Blinn Junior College, and Auburn were interviewed by Darlington and the organization. They looked deep into Newton’s arrest in 2008 for stealing another student’s laptop at the University of Florida.
They acted similarly in the case of claims that a six-figure payment was sought to get Newton to Mississippi State.
Beane said, “It was all hands on deck.”
The pro day, the combine
When the top college prospects gathered in Indianapolis for the annual scouting combine, the excitement level skyrocketed.
In a class that comprised Washington’s Jake Locker, Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, Florida State’s Christian Ponder, TCU’s Andy Dalton, and Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick, it was evident that Newton was the only quarterback choice at No. 1.
“We tried to keep an eye on him every chance we had,” Rivera said of Newton. “S—-, one day I followed the quarterback group so I could simply watch him interact.”
At Auburn’s pro day, it was more of the same. Rivera came to school the day before to stroll around and chat to anybody he could locate. He ran into a stadium security officer who recognized Newton was inside prepping for the pro day and allowed him in “without informing anybody I’m there.”
Rivera stated of Newton, “You could tell he was pretty much running everything.”
Rivera and Hurney visited with the quarterback the following morning.
Rivera said, “He had a bottle of water with him.” “By the time he was through, he’d eaten the bottle top off.” He’d bitten the portion of the bottle where you drink from. He’d damaged, crushed, and twisted it. He felt a tad jittery.
“However, his responses were fantastic.”
Getting to know the family
It wasn’t until Rivera and Hurney flew to Atlanta separately the week before the draft to speak with Newton and his family that they had a better grasp of the athlete.
“By the time they returned, I felt like they’d made up their minds that this was the path we were going to take,” Darlington recounted.
After seeing Newton and his younger brother watch ESPN highlights, Rivera made up his decision.
“I saw the Heisman Trophy sitting on the floor over in the corner,” he continued. “It was a jumble of what seemed to be 100 trophies.” And that was simply another one of the prizes, which was really humbling for me.”
‘Speak now or eternally keep your quiet,’ says the adage.
Darlington refers to Rivera as “Big Coach” since the former NFL linebacker is 6-foot-3. And at the last draft meeting, he loomed even larger.
“Even without his stature, there’s a genuine presence about the guy when he gets zoned in and pissed off,” Darlington said. “It all began when he walked into that meeting — I call it D-Day — and whirled his chair around and addressed everyone in the room, saying, ‘I’m tired of hearing the bulls—-, speak now or forever keep your peace.’
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“It felt like guns were drawn because everyone was so impassioned,” says the narrator.
Newton was being compared to other Black quarterbacks like Michael Vick, JaMarcus Russell, and Vince Young, who had either failed or had off-the-field issues. Darlington followed up on all of his worries.
He replied, “This was something you didn’t want to screw up.” “Like, this was a high-pressure situation.” You had the whole ‘Scam Newton’ thing going on, with the laptop. It was really insane. To them, everyone’s opinion was law.”
Beane has never seen anything like the vetting of Newton before or since he went through it with Josh Allen before choosing him with the Bills’ No. 7 overall choice in 2018.
“There was a lot of national criticism even when he was chosen,” he remarked of Newton. “I’m sure there were individuals in the building that believed such nonsense.” There were plenty of individuals you could speak to if you didn’t like Cam Newton.”
It was made even more significant by the fact that Newton was on the verge of joining one of the first social media quarterback courses.
“When you’re a wide receiver, defensive back, or anything else, it’s normal to be that loud,” Darlington added. “However, when you’re a quarterback, there’s a lot that comes with Cam.” Sure, there was a time.”
It was time to pick Newton for Rivera and the Panthers.
Class of 2022 quarterbacks
Although there isn’t a quarterback in the 2022 class as well-known as Newton, clubs are nonetheless putting in the additional effort.
The Panthers used seven of their 30 official visits on quarterbacks, including a second visit from North Carolina’s Sam Howell, which is unusual. They sent their top brass to the majority of the pro days and had private workouts with them.
The team wanted to see whether they could manage the pressure and success, as well as failure, according to a person close to the matter.
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On successive days, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin visited Pickett, Willis, Corral, and Cincinnati’s Desmond Ridder. He didn’t take all of the candidates out to dinner, including Willis and Ridder.
Hugh Freeze, Willis’ Liberty coach, who coached at Ole Miss and had eight non-quarterbacks chosen (three in the first round), said the process of screening Willis has been “definitely more severe.”
He stated, “Conversations concerning quarterback performance are a lot longer.” “Malik’s meetings have been more in-depth. Can he run an offense, something those other positions aren’t required to do?”
“It’s such a crucial thing,” Beane remarked. You can’t spend as much time investigating a fifth- or sixth-round pick as you would a third-round receiver. But if I’m looking at three quarterbacks, whatever the number is, I’m going to know these guys inside and out.”
Rivera has never gone to such lengths to vet a job. And he’s unlikely to spend as much time vetting another quarterback as he did with Newton.
He stated, “The man is going to be the face of the franchise.” “On the attacking side of the ball, he’ll lead and have an influence on every play, and on the defensive side, he’ll have an impact on the game.”
“You’d better get that one right,” says the narrator.
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