Cam Newton's not that bad

Panthers soph close to breakthrough, but needs to refine decisions, footwork

Updated: November 8, 2012, 12:11 PM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Cam Newton and Robert Griffin IIIUS Presswire, Getty ImagesCam Newton needs to improve several skills lest he be surpassed by Robert Griffin III.

There was a firestorm of reaction a couple of weeks ago when Warren Moon went to bat to defend Cam Newton from the onslaught of critical comments regarding his level of play in his sophomore NFL campaign.

Part of the intensity of the public's reaction came from Moon saying that Newton is being compared to Vince Young, yet the truth of the matter is that Newton's stock is taking a big hit not because of any similarity he has to Young but rather because of how he compares to rookie standouts Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck.

Both Griffin and Luck rank in the top 10 in ESPN's Total QBR metric, something Newton did not do in his rookie campaign, and Luck has already broken one of Newton's rookie records.

The dominant performances of these two are showing that Newton's great 2011 season wasn't a once-in-a-generation achievement but was instead the likely beginning of a new era when rookie quarterbacks are going to be able to post superb numbers right out of the gate.

Combine that with Newton's inconsistent play this year and his recurring leadership issues and it soon becomes clear he needs to find a way to take the next step forward or he could soon be passed by a number of other young quarterback talents both currently in the league and soon to be joining the league via the NFL draft.

So what does Newton need to do to accomplish this? Well, since he asked for suggestions on this very topic, here are two areas in which it would behoove him to improve, along with some role models to assist with this development.