Cam Newton: History Shows a Heisman Triumph Won’t Lead to NFL Pro Bowls

The most polarizing and electrifying athlete in college football is all but assured of taking home the Heisman trophy this Saturday.

There is no doubt, Cameron Newton has taken an average SEC squad, and carried the Tigers to a BCS Championship appearance.

In 2010, the former Gator has impressed with a statistical season that simply can’t be ignored. He passed for 2,589 yards, 28 touchdowns, and leads the nation with a quarterback rating of 188.16. The 6-6′, 250 pound quarterback also ran for 1,409 yards, 20 touchdowns.

After a run of twelve victorious running backs from 1972 until 1983, Newton will be the sixteenth quarterback to win the award over the past twenty six years.

Looking back at these sixteen modern day Heisman signal-callers, one can see why Newton is a perfect fit to join this fraternity of average NFL quarterbacks to win the prestigious trophy.

Nearing pro careers of their own, history also shows that LaMichael James, and Andrew Luck may be fortunate to leave New York City as runner-ups.

A brief look back at the non-impressive professional careers of Heisman winning quarterbacks since 1984.

1984: Doug Flutie, Boston College

At 5-10, 180 pounds, Flutie overcame the underdog role to achieve great success at Boston College. During his senior season he was awarded the 1984 Heisman trophy, and finished his collegiate career with 10,579 yards passing.

A projected late round selection, Flutie opted for the USFL in 1985. Between the USFL, CFL, and NFL he played for nine different teams during his twenty year career. He threw for over 14,000 yards in the NFL, and was voted to the 1998 Pro Bowl with the Buffalo Bills.

1986: Vinny Testaverde, Miami

The former Hurricane, could be considered one of the most successful Heisman winners on the NFL stage. Testaverde won the 1986 Heisman after a mediocre season that included 2,557 passing yards and 26 touchdowns.

He then went on to spend twenty one years in the NFL after being selected with the first selection of the 1987 NFL draft. Testaverde’s career NFL statistics include 46,233 passing yards, and 275 touchdowns passes. Testaverde was selected twice to the NFL Pro Bowl, and finally retired following the 2007 season.

1989: Andre Ware, Houston

A product of the Run and Shoot offense, the junior quarterback set 26 NCAA records in 1989 for the Cougars. During this magical season, he threw for 4,699 yards and 44 touchdowns.

Ware was selected with the seventh pick of the 1990 NFL draft by the Detroit Lions. One of the biggest draft busts ever, Ware lasted a total of four seasons in the league. He then spent five seasons in the CFL before retiring from the game of football.

1990: Ty Detmer, Brigham Young

Considered one of the best collegiate quarterbacks ever, Detmer won the Heisman trophy during his junior season. He finished his Cougar career with over 15,000 yards passing.

He was selected in the ninth round of the 1992 NFL draft by the Green Bay Packers. Detmer remained in the NFL until 2005, spending the majority of his time as a career back-up quarterback.

1992: Gino Torretta, Miami

A member of both the 1989 and 1991 Miami championship squads, Torretta won the Heisman Trophy during his senior season. During the 1992 campaign, he threw for 3,060 yards and 19 touchdowns.

He was selected in the seventh round of the 1993 NFL draft by Minnesota and later retired from the league in 1997. Torretta played in only one game during his professional career.

1993: Charlie Ward, Florida State

A legend in Tallahassee, the former Seminoles quarterback led his team to the programs first national title in 1993. He was voted a Heisman winner after throwing for 3,032 yards and 27 touchdowns.

A talented all-around athlete, he vowed to play professional basketball unless drafted in the first round of the NFL draft.

Projected as a  middle round prospect, Ward was selected in the first round of the 1994 NBA draft by the New York Knicks. He played twelve seasons in the NBA,  never pursuing an NFL career.

1996: Danny Wuerffel, Florida

Under coach Steve Spurrier, the former Gator quaterback led the program to four SEC championships, and a national title in 1996. During his Heisman winning senior season, he passed for 3,625 yards and 39 touchdowns.

Wuerffel was drafted in the fourth round by New Orleans in the 1997 NFL draft. He spent six seasons in the league, including a stint in NFL Europe with the Rhein Fire.

2000: Chris Weinke, Florida State

The oldest player to ever win the Heisman, Weinke passed for 4,167 yards as a senior in leading the Seminoles to three national championship appearances.

He was selected by Carolina in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL draft. As a rookie he led the Panthers to a 1-15 record as the starter in 2001. He threw for a total of 3,904 passing yards before leaving the league after the 2007 season.

2001: Eric Crouch, Nebraska

A 6-0′, 210 pound running quarterback, Crouch won the 2001 Heisman trophy over Ken Dorsey, and Rex Grossman. He passed for 1,510 yards, rushed for 1,115 yards, and was accountable for 25 touchdowns during his senior campaign.

The former Cornhusker was selected as a wide receiver in the third round of the 2002 NFL draft. He spent four non-existent years in the NFL, before spending the next two seasons in the CFL. Crouch retired from football in 2008.

2002: Carson Palmer, USC

Along with Testaverde, the former Trojan could be considered one of the most successful pro quarterbacks on this list. After three mediocre seasons, Palmer broke out with 3,942 yards passing and 33 touchdowns as a senior.

At 6-5′, 230 pounds, he was considered the prototypical quarterback and selected first overall by Cincinnati in the 2003 NFL draft. Currently in his eighth season, Palmer has been selected to two Pro Bowls (2005, 2006), and has thrown for nearly 22,000 career yards.

Fighting injuries throughout his career, many believe the Bengal quarterbacks performance is beginning to decline.

2003: Jason White, Oklahoma

The former Sooner took home the Heisman after an impressive statistical junior season. In 2003, he threw for 3,846 yards, and forty touchdowns. The following year, he finished third in the Heisman voting behind teammate Adrian Peterson and USC’s Matt Leinart.

White went undrafted in the 2005 NFL draft, only to later sign free agent contracts with Kansas City and Tennessee. He soon retired after spending less then a year in the league.

2004: Matt Leinart, USC

A major component of the Trojan dynasty, Leinart was awarded the Heisman as a junior in 2004. His Trojans finished the season undefeated with a victory over Oklahoma in the BCS Championship game. He finished his collegiate career with 10,693 passing yards, 99 touchdowns, and a 64.8% completion percentage.

Leinart was selected tenth overall by Arizona in the 2006 NFL draft. After spending four seasons with the Cardinals, he was cut by the team. Leinart signed with Houston in 2010 to back-up starting quarterback Matt Schaub.

2006: Troy Smith, Ohio State

Smith landed 86.7% of the Heisman vote during his senior season in Columbus. With a 62.7% completion percentage, 2,542 yards passing and 30 touchdowns, Smith led the Buckeyes to the 2007 BCS Championship game.

The Heisman winner fell to the fifth round of the NFL draft when he was selected by the Baltimore Ravens. Currently with San Francisco, Smith has thrown for 1,387 yards and six touchdowns during his NFL career.

2007: Tim Tebow, Florida

One of the most decorated and popular collegiate players ever, the former Gator is making his way through his rookie season. In Gainesville, Tebow had a hand in two BCS national titles.

During his sophomore season of 2007, he accounted for a record fifty-five Gator touchdowns. He was awarded the 2007 Heisman trophy, placed third in 2008, and wasn’t named a finalist in 2009.

A surprise selection, the Broncos selected Tebow late in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft. Stereotyped as a system player, the career path of Tebow is still unknown.

2008: Sam Bradford, Oklahoma

In 2008, Bradford became the second straight sophomore quarterback to win the Heisman trophy. During his stellar second year in Norman, he threw for 4,721 yards, 50 touchdowns and held a 67.9% completion percentage.

Due to injuries he played in only two games in 2009. Bradford decided to leave Norman after his junior year and was selected first overall by St. Louis in the 2010 NFL draft.

Bradford has the potential to become a Pro Bowl quarterback, and has been impressive thus far as a rookie. Through eleven game he has throw for 2,466 yards passing with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Of these fifteen recent Heisman winning quarterbacks, only three (Testaverde, Palmer, and Flutie) have reached a Pro Bowl. These three signal-callers have little in common with Newton in terms of style, and NFL potential.

In comparison, Newton holds a very similar physical stature to that of Leinart, Palmer, Tebow, and Testaverde. With better speed, and agility, the Auburn quarterback must prove his natural talent can hold up at the next level.

The NFL is a pro-style league and history shows that collegiate system quarterbacks simply don’t transition into Pro Bowl players. For every Michael Vick, there is a Tommie Frazier, Eric Crouch, and Chris Leak. Even with his accuracy, Newton must prove he can read defenses, stay in the pocket, and devote his time to studying the game.

It would be wise for Newton to stick around for one more season. With only one year under his belt and questions regarding his personality and ethics, he needs to prove the skeptics wrongs.

One thing is for sure, when he holds up the Heisman trophy on Saturday evening, he will be joining a very non-impressive fraternity of quarterbacks.

~ by philip d. on December 9, 2010.

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