AUBURN, Ala. -- Somewhat disappointed by an erratic performance at the NFL Scouting Combine nine days ago, quarterback Cam Newton wanted to come out at Auburn’s pro day and answer the questions left lingering from Indianapolis.
Those who were watching felt like he did.
Newton, who was one of 22 former Tigers to participate, showcased a strong, accurate arm in a little less than an hour on a windy afternoon at Jordan-Hare Stadium in front of 125 NFL personnel from all 32 teams Tuesday, easing some concerns after a so-so performance at the combine.
“He’s a very, very proud athlete, and he’s a very competitive guy,” said George Whitfield Jr., Newton’s personal quarterback coach. “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.”
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After sailing several of his longer passes during an 11-for-21 effort in Indianapolis, Newton was much more in control on his home field, showcasing a variety of throws in his 65 passes, completing all but 10 of them to a familiar group of Auburn receivers.
“Every quarterback has tendencies; every athlete has tendencies,” Newton said. “And that’s my tendency: to get impatient. And when I get impatient, the throws are erratic. That’s one thing I wanted to focus on: to be comfortable today.”
All of the teams near the top of the draft were well-represented Tuesday. Head coaches from teams with five of the first six picks in April’s draft -- Carolina’s Ron Rivera, Denver’s John Fox (with executive vice president of football operations John Elway in tow), Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis, Arizona’s Ken Whisenhunt and Cleveland’s Pat Shurmur -- were in attendance, although none spoke to the media afterward.
Bills general manager Buddy Nix, whose team owns the third pick in the draft, liked what he saw but noted that today was only part of the whole evaluation.
“I tell you this: Workouts are a small piece of the puzzle,” he said. “We go by how they play. If the throwing is good, you can tell something about their release, you can tell something about his arm.
“But the only way you can tell how a guy can play quarterback is when he’s being rushed and you’ve got coverage and you’ve got to throw it in a tight spot and you’ve got pressure on you. That’s kind of what we go by.”
Did he learn anything about Newton he didn’t already know?
“No,” Nix said. “He did good, and I expected him to.”
Newton bypassed the individual workouts early in the day after doing them in Indianapolis and didn’t do his positional drills until four hours had passed. But he continued to answer questions from teams about his character.
“They want to know everything,” Newton said. “They want to know who I really am. 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.
“Each organization has to do a thorough investigation on who this person really is, what his background is and is he a competitor. It’s just fun, and I look forward to talking to team after team about who I really am.”
Newton will continue to meet for private workouts with individual teams in the upcoming weeks, hoping to continue to show that he isworthy of being a high draft pick.
“We really didn’t hit a finish line today,” Whitfield said. “This is just the next game. All he’s going to do is continue to get better.”