The Cam Newton we saw a year ago in Indianapolis wasn't the same player we saw throwing for over 400 yards his first game, nor was he the passer we saw in George Whitfield's media session, and he was far removed from what we saw at Auburn's pro day. During the 2011 combine we saw a muddled, lost, frustrated QB who had terrible accuracy and then seemingly blamed his receivers for his poor showing.
Fast forward a year and Rob Rang of CBS Sports give us an insight into what exactly happened for Cam in Indy.
"Last year [scouts] didn't sync the QB drop and the wide receiver pattern. For example, [Newton] was dropping five steps but the wide receivers were doing three step type patterns."
The miscommunication caused Newton's accuracy to appear to be inconsistent. He took the hit publicly for a mediocre performance and to his credit never said a word publicly about what may have been the biggest reason for it.
Reading this my jaw literally dropped. Are you really telling me that the same pedantic NFL that will mint a special coin to decide a draft spot wont even ensure the WRs and QBs are on the same page on timing routes during the combine? I don't even understand how that kind of cock-up can occur.
More after the jump
Shoot, I don't blame Andrew Luck and RGIII for not throwing in Indy. If I was an agent responsible for any QB in this draft I wouldn't have them even contemplate throwing under this kind of supervision. It took the Panthers to see past Indianapolis, and see beyond the poor showing to buck the trend and take Newton, despite the cards being stacked against him. Perhaps privately they knew how mismanaged the combine was, even if it was never made public.
The issue goes beyond this though. If the NFL can't even manage to let QBs and WRs know their routes, what hope is there to ensure the rest of the scouting combine is run with a modicum of care or understanding? Every year we see players slide due to measurables, medical evaluation, or a mixture of both. As such we see undrafted players like Victor Cruz and Wes Welker, or 7th round selections like Marques Colston cement themselves as big time NFL players, even though the combine said they weren't; furthermore, is it really a coincidence that these guys fall and happen to play the position most reliant on a good combine showing?
Granted, I could be getting a little carried away and this comes off sounding rife with hyperbole- but I can't help feeling like there's a reason why the top players are waiting until their pro day to really show off anything. Agents are advising their clients not to participate, and the NFL are testing whether to open the combine to the public and turn it even more into a carnival attraction. Something has to give, and the alleged perfection of unbiased testing doesn't look quite so infallible anymore.