One of the best—and subsequently worst—aspects of the draft season is scouting an NFL prospect and attempting to compare him to someone we've all seen before in the NFL.
"Oh, he's the next (insert name of player here)."
"He's going to be a bust like (insert name of player here)."
I love making these comparisons because it's a challenge to see exactly how close I can come to matching styles of players. For example, Alabama running back Mark Ingram reminds me of Emmitt Smith. That seems to be a universal comparison that we all can make. Ingram may be about 16,000+ yards and a boatload of touchdowns behind Smith, but from a style perspective, Ingram is the spitting image of Smith the way he looks on the field and how his skills translate to the next level—right on down to the #22 on his jersey.
That all being said, if I see one more time that Cam Newton is just another Jamarcus Russell, it'll make me puke. Honestly. After Cam's "Media Opportunity"—errr, workout—last week, the internet was all abuzz about the former Auburn signal caller. ESPN's Trent Dilfer gushed effusively about him
. NFL.com's Bucky Brooks did the same
Thing is, the guy was in shorts and shirt. No helmets or gear. No defense. Perfect weather. Completing passes on air. Suffice it to say, I was a little agitated in the over-the-top praise of Newton
. If you had seen him play during the season, you saw everything that his workout showed—and then some. My thought, as a guy who watches more college football than most, was "you haven't seen anything yet."
Regardless, this didn't ruin my day to hear what these guys had to say. I knew more than they could tell me anyway; however, I found myself getting extremely perturbed as I read what critics of Newton were saying. Quite frankly, I'm more ticked off than anything else at the constant comparison of Newton's critics to former Raiders #1 pick Jamarcus Russell. It goes like this:
"Aw, c'mon, he's just the next Jamarcus Russell."
Tell me.. why?
What's similar about the two?
"Well...both played in the SEC."
Good. Keep going.
"Both are large men."
In different ways, yes. Continue.
"Both are, well, you know..."
That's right, we do know. The only other true similarity is the color of their skin. That's it. These two quarterbacks couldn't be more different. Not even close.
- Russell was a pocket passer with a gargantuan gun.
Newton is a scrambling playmaker with a solid arm.
- Russell faded against the best competition in the SEC.
Newton played his best against the top teams in the SEC—LSU, Alabama and Arkansas.
- Russell had difficulty during his career grasping the playbook at LSU, allegedly.
Newton ran three different defenses in three years, with two National Championships to show for his efforts
- Russell made poor decisions due in large part to the confidence in his arm.
Newton rarely made the wrong decision due in part to his overall confidence.
- Russell killed plays in big games.
Newton made plays in all games.
Russell eventually showed how little he understood about being a professional once he got mad cash from Al Davis, who cherished Russell's ability to throw the ball 80 yards in the air. That's going to be something Newton has to master as well, but EVERY single draft eligible player from here to eternity had better master it if he wants a long future in this game. It's not a Cam Newton thing. It's an everybody's thing.
So, I continue to ask, how are the two similar? By now, you know I'm only asking to drive home the point that they're not. At all.
Newton has what Russell never had... It
. He had It
. The It
factor. Newton is going to find a way to win a game when said game is on the line. He did it all year long. It never felt that way with Russell, who only had one late game heroic save—Tennessee in 2006 in Knoxville.
I truly believe Cam Newton will not fail at the next level, but if he does, it won't be because he was the next Jamarcus Russell or even the next Vince Young. It'll be due to the fact that he didn't understand how to be a professional. That he couldn't and didn't know how to lead and didn't put in the time during the week to be great.
Only then will you be able to say that Cam Newton is the next Jamarcus Russell.
Photos: Jamarcus Russell, Cam Newton