As we prepare for the 2023 NFL Draft, college programs nationwide will have their Pro Days, which comes after the NFL Scouting Combine and allows NFL teams to get another chance to check out their favorite prospects.
Auburn's Pro Day featured NFL hopefuls such as edge rusher Derick Hall, linebacker Owen Pappoe and running back Tank Bigsby.
And, oh yeah, former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton.
Yes, the same Cam Newton who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, played for the Carolina Panthers from 2011-2019 and 2021 and joined the New England Patriots for the 2020 season. The same Cam Newton who won NFL MVP honors in 2015.
Newton took to social media, releasing a video saying, "ain't 32 mother******* better than me."
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3/21 ÄÜßÜRÑ, Ä????#?hïñëTHR?thë?HÄD?#ñøtFØR?ïkë?J??Tfør?ÏF?
— Cameron 1 Newton (@CameronNewton) March 20, 2023
In the same video, Newton pointed to "randoms" getting jobs around the league. Still, Newton apparently thinks he's a starter in the NFL as we head into the 2023 season.
So, how did he do at Auburn's Pro Day?
Cam Newton Gets Mixed Reviews at Auburn's Pro Day
Insane throw from Cam Newton, who?s working at Auburn?s Pro Day. pic.twitter.com/fxqG1zGPSl
— Lance Dawe (@LanceDawe_) March 21, 2023
This is the throw that's getting the most attention, and for good reason. Newton clearly still has the arm strength to play in the NFL. But can he make passes like this with NFL defensive ends breathing down his neck?
Other passes were...not so good.
Cam Newton is putting on a SHOW at Auburn?s Pro Day ?
— Luke Sawhook ?? (@lukesawhook) March 21, 2023
But you can judge for yourself. Newton completed 28 of the 34 passes he threw on Tuesday. Take that for what you will.
Cam Newton throws at Auburn Pro Day 2023 pic.twitter.com/S5qXibJWsr
— Wesley Sinor (@WesleySinor) March 21, 2023
Warren Sharp — an NFL data analyst and contributor at Sports Grid, The Ringer and more — made a tweet looking at the projected starters in the league. Let's go down the list and see if we can make a case for Newton.
how many QBs are better than 2023 Cam Newton? pic.twitter.com/N85jB1t6S6
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) March 21, 2023
Teams That Cam Newton Could Start for in 2023
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Looking over the list supplied by Sharp, it's genuinely difficult to make a case that Newton could start for any of the 32 NFL teams. Now, if he was willing to be a backup, that's a far different subject. The following players deserve a conversation, but there's a reason we'll see them start in 2023, or a change could be coming:
- Baltimore Ravens: With Lamar Jackson currently assigned the non-exclusive franchise tag, a team could offer up two first-round picks to the Ravens and a contract to Jackson or work out a trade with the Ravens on the side to send Jackson elsewhere. If Jackson does go somewhere else, it's safe to assume the Ravens might look to draft a quarterback, as the free agent market — including Newton — is slim. The best quarterback on the free agent market right now is likely Teddy Bridgewater, with players such as Joe Flacco, Chase Daniel, Brian Hoyer and Carson Wentz floating around. However, it seems probable that Jackson lands back in Baltimore.
- Houston Texans: They're drafting No. 2 overall and will draft a quarterback.
- Indianapolis Colts: They're drafting No. 4 overall and will likely draft a quarterback. If not, the Gardner Minshew versus Newton discussion likely leans in favor of Minshew.
- Los Angeles Rams: All signs point to Matt Stafford coming back, but he suffered a gruesome injury that made some speculate if the often-beat-up signal-caller and Super Bowl winner would retire. If Stafford decides for some reason to retire, the Rams could look to Newton.
- Washington Commanders: Sam Howell is listed as the starter, but the team also signed Jacoby Brissett. I'd take Brissett over Newton easily.
- Green Bay Packers: Do we really need to say it? Jordan Love is starting in 2023, no matter what.
- Atlanta Falcons: Newton is from Georgia, but the Falcons will get in on Jackson, draft a quarterback, or let Desmond Ridder start in 2023 to get a look at their young quarterback.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: They just signed Baker Mayfield. He'll start in 2023, but Newton could be a great backup with a chance to start, as Mayfield is up and down.
Why Teams Aren't Calling Newton
We don't know what teams are or aren't reaching out to Newton, but based on his video, it appears that any team that has is met with resistance from him because he wants to start. Again, in his video, he mentioned "32 mother*******," not 64.
The last time we saw Newton play, it wasn't pretty — at all.
In 2021 with the Panthers, Newton started five games. In those games, he threw two touchdowns and five interceptions. He entered a game against Arizona for his first appearance of the year and looked good, throwing and rushing for a touchdown. The next week, he started against Washington and had 46 rushing yards, one touchdown and two passing touchdowns.
Newton looked reborn.
Well, that didn't last long.
Over his last four starts against the Miami Dolphins, Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Newton passed for just one more touchdown and ran for three. He managed to rack up the rushing yards, running for 47 in Week 14, 71 in Week 15 and 42 in Week 16.
There's no denying Newton's athleticism, even in his 30s. However, he cannot pass the ball anymore.
He completed just five passes in a game where he attempted 21 passes. That's a 23.8% completion rate. He had a 65.2% completion rate against Atlanta but didn't get above 53.8% in his final two starts.
The year before with the New England Patriots, Newton started well, including one of the best games he'd had in years against the Seattle Seahawks. He threw for nearly 400 yards and rushed for two touchdowns.
Newton then had to miss a few games due to COVID-19 and never returned to that form. He played well against the Jets, but he finished the year with eight passing touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 2,657 passing yards and 7.2 yards per attempt. Still, he did have nearly 600 rushing yards and 12 rushing scores.
Again, Newton's athleticism is fantastic — no one disputes that. But as a quarterback, throwing the ball is a fundamental part of the game. He completed more than 65% of his passes in 2020, but the volume of passes was low.
Does Newton deserve a job in the NFL? Yes.
Does Newton deserve to start Week 1 in 2023? No.
It doesn't have to be in the NFL and starting for Newton; he could be on a team as a valuable backup who has a chance to start if the starter struggles.
Predicting Which Team Would Sign Newton
Assuming Newton would be open to playing initially as a backup, the Rams seem like the most logical destination. Other than Stafford, there are no quarterbacks on the roster. In going to the Rams, Newton would have a solid chance to start at some point due to Stafford's current injury and his overall health history.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
MORE: Cam Newton's Net Worth Proves He Can Retire Comfortably Whenever He Wants
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