- Matt Williamson, ESPN.com
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In this year's first installment of my Rookie Watch, I saw it fitting to profile the first overall pick in the 2011 draft, quarterback Cam Newton.
The first overall pick in the 2010 draft, quarterback Sam Bradford, ended up atop my final rankings just ahead of Ndamukong Suh. This was a remarkable accomplishment for a rookie signal-caller who was selected by a franchise that deserved the first overall selection. And frankly, I don't expect Newton to duplicate Bradford's accomplishment.
But Newton is set up to get plenty of opportunities. Unlike many rookie quarterbacks, Newton will be the opening day starter for Carolina. And, although he is a much different quarterback prospect than Bradford, Newton's talent is obvious. He has fantastic size, strength and athletic ability for the position. It isn't much of a stretch to say that Newton is already the second-most dangerous NFL quarterback as a runner, behind only Michael Vick among the league's starters. And Newton also has a very powerful right arm. He does not have any limitations throwing the football.
That said, Newton is far more of a work-in-progress than Bradford was at this time last season. Accuracy is the biggest difference between the two. Newton missed many open receivers during the preseason -- far too many, in fact. Also, his throwing mechanics regressed as the preseason went along.
Newton has all the talent in the world and will be given the opportunity to show it, but he still has a very long way to go.
Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.
1dMel Kiper Jr.
2dEric D. Williams