Cam Newton was 6’5″ and 245 pounds of pure football prowess when he came out of Auburn with a national championship and a Heisman Trophy. Being the #1 pick in the draft, as Newton was, comes with lots of flashbulbs and lots of pressure. The Heisman amps it further. Just ask Johnny Manziel, Tim Tebow and Matt Leinart, all tremendous college players with Heismans who despite their successes haven’t had careers like they — and their team’s owners and fans — imagined on draft day. The situation is sometimes made worse by guys like Tom Brady and Terrell Davis, 6th round picks who wildly exceeded expectations. When you’re #1, you can’t exceed expectations. Down is the easiest place to go.
But Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton sure is looking like the #1 pick this season — guiding his Panthers to a brilliant 13-0 start. The first-round #1 pick in the 2011 NFL draft, Newton has been good since day one — never completing less than 57% off his passes in a season and adding a running dimension to the Panthers attack with an astonishing 40 yards-a-game rushing average. (It’d be more, but he often hits the end zone.) Newton has clearly stepped it up even another level this year, fresh off signing a $104 million contract extension this summer. He ranks just #11 in total QB rating this year, but he’s the only one at 13-0. He’s far more #1 than #11 when it comes to winning games, just like the Panthers hoped on draft day.