A more consistent Newton impresses at Pro Day

Newton was much more impressive in Auburn's Pro-Day completeing 50-60 passes with 3 drops

Cam Newton’s third major workout of the draft season came in a controlled environment, in a stadium he knew, with receivers he was familiar with and with the eyes of the 125 NFL personnel present fixed squarely upon him.

The Heisman winner served as the grand finale for Auburn’s Pro Day at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Tuesday, finishing up the five-hour affair by tossing around 65 passes to former targets such as Darvin Adams, Terrell Zachery and Kodi Burns.

Newton ran the gamut of passing situations — rolling out, three-step drop, seven-step drop, shifting the pocket — threw to all corners of the field — outs, ins, flats, flags, posts, crosses, curls, seams — and only failed to complete about 10 of his balls.

It was an improvement on his 11-for-21 performance at the NFL Combine.

“He came out like Secretariat,” said George Whitfield, Newton’s quarterback coach. “He was pawing at the ground, knew it was a big day, wanted it, waiting for the gates to open. The kid went off and went. I was excited for him.”

Newton didn’t participate in the first four hours of the Pro Day, letting his workout numbers from the Combine speak for themselves, but took the field for a 48-minute throwing session at the end to improve on the one knock that seemed to stick with him after his trip to Indianapolis: consistency.

And, while some of the throws sailed on him, Newton was impressive.

“Every single day I feel like I have coaching points,” Newton said. “The Combine was no different. I left there not happy with my performance, but I came out today wanting to focus on the things I didn’t do well at the Combine.”

Newton and the other 21 former Auburn players that participated Tuesday had a star-studded crowd to play to, with representatives from all 32 NFL teams and five head coaches — Carolina’s Ron Rivera, Denver’s John Fox, Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis, Arizona’s Ken Whisenhunt and Cleveland’s Pat Shurmur — who all pick within the first six in April’s NFL Draft in attendance

General manager Buddy Nix was there to represent the Buffalo Bills, who have the third pick.

He said he didn’t learn anything more about Newton than he already knew.

“He did good, and I expected him to,” Nix said.

Defensive tackle Nick Fairley, being a top-flight prospect himself, was dealing with the same pressures as Newton.

Fairley, like Newton, let his Combine marks stand for the workouts in the early part of the day, before taking part in position drills with his fellow defensive linemen in the afternoon.

“I can just show that I’ve still been working,” Fairley said. “Even though the Combine is over with, I’m still training. I wanted to show those guys that I’m still working to get better.”

For Fairley and Newton, Pro Day was just another in a long line of job auditions, a process that started when the two declared in mid-January and won’t end until their names are called in New York in late April.

“They want to know everything. They want to know who I really am,” Newton said. “During this whole process, I’ve done a lot of explaining about who I really am. I’m extremely comfortable with that, because I know this is a multi-million dollar investment, and they have to know who they’re picking.”

Tuesday was a chance for both Fairley and Newton to show continued improvement on the field they built their stars on during the season.
Whitfield, for one, thinks that benefitted his pupil.

“He had fun. He’s laughing, he’s playing,” Whitfield said. “I kind of think playing back here at Jordan-Hare maybe added a little bit to his comfort level, and hey, he’s a very, very proud athlete, and he’s a very competitive guy.

“If Michael Jordan one night scores 20 points, you best believe the next team that he faces is going to have deal with 45 going in. I think that’s the kind of mindset Cam had today.”

Nix said the main purpose of Newton and Fairley’s Pro Day was for teams to see the raw material they’d have to work with if they selected either of them, to clear up any doubts as to whether they’re two of the top players in the draft.

Scouts have already seen pretty much all they needed watching the two dominate SEC competition over 14 games anyway.

“If anybody can tell if a guy can play football running through dummies, he’s better than I am,” Nix said of Fairley. “But you do see athletic ability. He has great ability, feet, speed and bursts and all of those things. He’s a good player. He makes plays on Saturday, and he’ll make them again on Sundays.”

dmorrison@oanow.com | 737-2568

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