I'll preface this by saying that I've lived in Alabama my whole life, so Auburn and Alabama football have been daily topics of conversation for years and years. Despite being an LSU fan (don't hate, i promise i can drink a six pack and not start screaming and throwing things, and i don't particularly care for corn dogs), every year I know more about Alabama and Auburn football than any other teams in the nation. That being said, I am incredibly familiar with Cam Newton, both on and off the field (I know a very large number of people at Auburn), and, interestingly enough, I have a friend who is a long-time Auburn fan as well as a long-time Dolphins fan. He and I are both terrified of Cam Newton coming anywhere near this team. I'll attempt to elucidate why.
From the onset of this season, it was clear to everyone around these parts that Newton was going to become a national sensation by the time the season was over. His raw athletic ability comes along once in a blue moon. His success at Auburn has been hailed by many as indicative that he will be the next big thing in the NFL, and indeed he will most likely be handsomely rewarded by a team who jumps on that bandwagon. However, there are many red flags about Newton's offensive prowess in terms of evaluating him for a starting job in the NFL:
Auburn's offensive package. This is the easiest place to begin. Auburn's offense this year was helmed by Gus Malzahn, whom is regarded by many as one of the greatest high school football coaches in recent memory, if not the greatest. That sentence should already be rousing some concerns. Malzahn is undoubtedly a genius, so much so in fact that he doesn't even keep a playbook with him during games. He just knows it. But his genius lies in using gimmick plays and personnel changes to confuse defenses, neither of which are good offensive preparation for playing in the NFL. In Newton's sole year of experience, he ran a designed quarterback read at least once per four downs all season long. This is good preparation for the NFL only insofar as learning to read blitzes. And, since Newton did play in the SEC, many of the blitz packages he faced were adequately representative of a lot of what he will see at the next level. However, (and i watched tape from every single auburn game, believe me), if you examine the situations in which Newton often had success, most of his success in these reads came from missed tackles behind the line of scrimmage and multiple defenders simply running by him into the backfield. These things will NOT happen in the NFL. If a linebacker charges through the hole and hits him in an NFL game, he is not going to sidestep it and crank up the power like he did at Auburn. Hits behind the line of scrimmage will be much more devastating, and far less defenders will flat out miss their tackles and go sailing by. This means that Newton's success in the zone read does not merit expectations of success in the NFL.
No experience reading coverage. The passing game that Auburn did employ this year was purely a one-look attack. Newton was never required to scan the field, let alone do things like freeze safeties or linebackers (compare him to Blaine Gabbert in this regard. Gabbert is already masterful at looking off defenders and analyzing coverage, whereas Newton has never even had to do it at all). That's right, Henne-haters. He will be even worse than Chad Henne about staring down receivers and going through his reads. This is simply a recipe for disaster until it can be remedied by proper coaching, which you are joking yourself if you think the Dolphins can give him (see below). With Miami poised to incorporate 5WR sets into the offense and really expand the vertical passing game, it would make no sense to target a quarterback who is coming out of a one-look offense.
Problems with mechanics. Newton's throwing motion is average at best. It's not atrocious, but it is far from polished, and leaves a lot to be desired. His footwork, however, is a whole different story. It's a trainwreck. Now, I can hear the objections already, "footwork is super easy to coach!". Well, yes and no. If the throwing mechanics are there and the quarterback has comfortable knowledge of the offense he is running, then yes, footwork is easy to correct. However, when Newton will already be having to learn an entirely new offensive package, learn entirely new things about reading defenses and progressing his reads, and revamp his throwing mechanics, throwing footwork in on top of it turns into a giant mess. Basically, Newton is coming into the NFL having to learn the game and his mechanics from the ground up. This will be a very arduous process when coupled with his character concerns (see below).
Character concerns. I won't talk about anything that happened with him at Florida or in being recruited to Auburn. There's no substantive evidence to back up most of those rumors flying around, though I am not willing to discount them as false. However, what has been readily observable about Newton is his behavior on the field and when dealing with the press, which gives good insight into what kind of character he really has. Watching Newton cavort around on the field for Auburn was a disgrace. At no point in recent memory can I recall such a showboat playing in college football, save possibly DeSean Jackson, but Newton even puts him to shame. Newton's weekly routine consisted of running around on the field by himself, showing off to the fans. In multiple games, he instigated huge sideline celebrations while the game was still ongoing. Even despite being coached to speak to the media more than any other player in college football, he still managed to slip out pure arrogance and egocentrism into his interviews time and again, going beyond simply thanking God for his success and saying things like he is God's personal instrument chosen to be adored by us all. Recently, as you probably already know, he has described himself as an "entertainer" and an "icon". Cam Newton does not love the game of football, Cam Newton loves the fact that he has an outlet to glorify himself. This coaching staff absolutely hates these type of personalities, and has only twice (Incognito and Marshall) been willing to make exceptions, and it was clear afterward that they only brought in those two because they successfully reined in their egos. This coaching staff likes true leadership, not media showboating and self-praise.
This franchise's past failures in quarterback development. You should all be familiar by now with the stories of guys like John Beck and Pat White. Every quarterback that has gone to the Dolphins over the past ten years, in fact, has seemed to go backwards. Not only have we shown a penchant for failing to properly develop quarterbacks, we actually don't even know how to do it at all. Now, it's true that with Daboll coming in and a new slew of position coaches, this could very well change. However, is it really prudent to draft the quarterback most in need of development in the entire draft yet AGAIN? Absolutely not, and Ireland and Sparano don't have the time to sit around and wait for Newton to blossom anyway. This regime will pull the trigger on only someone who they feel has the drive and abilities to succeed sans some great coaching.
The fact that the Dolphins are publicly showing interest in Newton. This alone pretty much kills any possibility that we will draft him. It has become apparent that Ireland and Sparano employ the media as a tool to mask their true intent and make other teams play right into their hands. Last year at this time, we had "superb confidence" in Gibril Wilson. Interest in Newton coming to light tells me simply that this regime does not want to draft Newton, but is hoping to put fear into some other teams that they might trade up and grab him, occupying a QB spot with a pick we are not fond of so that a guy we are interested in might slip. Any of you who think that this regime would tip their hand this badly before the draft obviously aren't familiar with Ireland's style.