NFL Draft 2011: Will Cam Newton Follow in the Footsteps of Past Heisman Winners?

Joseph HigginsContributor IIMarch 10, 2011

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11:  Cam Newton, quarterback of the Auburn University Tigers, poses with the 2010 Heisman Memorial Trophy Award on December 11, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

First off, let's just take a look at the past Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks (ones since 2000) and see where they stand in the NFL today:

Chris Weinke (2000): Fourth-round draft pick and went 1-15 his first season. He retired after his season with the San Francisco 49ers in 2007.

Eric Crouch (2001): Third-round draft pick and only played quarterback outside the NFL.

Carson Palmer (2002): First-round (first overall) pick in the 2002 draft. One of the Cincinnati's best quarterbacks in a long time, Palmer's been to two Pro Bowls and has a career QB rating of 86.9. As of recent, however, it seems he might retire if the Bengals don't trade him elsewhere.

Jason White (2003): Wasn't even drafted by any team—retired from football due to weak knees and never played in the NFL.

Matt Leinart (2004): First-round draft pick who showed some personal issues in the NFL. After Kurt Warner retired from football, he assumed he would start for the Arizona Cardinals. So he took practices lightly when it turned on him and the Cards signed Derek Anderson. With 14 touchdowns to 20 interceptions in his career, Leinart stands as the Houston Texans third string quarterback.

Troy Smith (2006): Fifth-round draft pick who showed spark of late for the 49ers. He's only played 20 games in his now five-year career in the NFL. A quarterback rating of 80.0 with seven touchdowns to four interceptions isn't too shabby, but doesn't have enough playing time in the NFL to be considered elite.

Tim Tebow (2007): First-round draft pick whose future could be bright if he gets the opportunity to be a starting quarterback. Eleven total touchdowns in his rookie season could result in his name being called more in next season's play.

Sam Bradford (2008): First-round (first overall) pick in the 2010 NFL draft and has, so far, the best career out of any Heisman winner on this list. He won the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award this past season after he came one game short of leading the St. Louis Rams to a playoff bid.

And then we have Cam Newton whose NFL career has yet to be decided.

For the size that Newton has compared to his all around playing ability, he can make a difference to whatever team he's drafted to. The thing about Newton is that he can pass as well, he's not just a scrambling or rushing quarterback, his throwing abilities are substantial.

There is no doubt in anyone's mind that he'll be picked somewhere in the first round. But anything can happen as of now.

My point here is will Newton turn out to be a flake quarterback like some of those past Heisman winning quarterbacks? Or will he be able to handle the transition to the NFL and still deliver star performances? Will he even end off being like a Brad Smith and come to the NFL a QB and play as a wideout?

All we can do is wait at this point.

Countdown: 49 days until the 2011 NFL Draft.