Dec 22, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks to pass in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback Rankings: No. 14

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Every two days, Rishi Pochiraju will reveal a quarterback on his grand list of quarterback rankings. Each quarterback will receive a grade out of 50 – 10 points for each category. See his page for earlier ranked quarterbacks. Up next: number 14.

#14. Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton burst onto the NFL spotlight from the moment he entered the NFL draft. I believe his play has backed up the first overall selection in 2011, breaking numerous records in his rookie season and continuing to improve into his second year. This third year is huge for Newton, and it could possibly be a breakout year.

Some say that Newton hasn’t elevated his team like other young quarterbacks (such as Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III) have, but base that statement off Carolina’s win-loss record. This isn’t accurate, because the team lost seven games by less than a possession (eight points) out of their total nine losses.

Newton has done all he could to help Carolina win, and he did do so down the stretch for the last two years. This could be his breakout year and Carolina has the ability to shock people in the division and the conference in 2013.

Physical traits and athleticism

Newton is known for his physical tools and running ability. He’s listed at 6-6, 245 pounds, and towers over offensive and defensive linemen. This height and size helps him stay healthy, and makes him a durable quarterback inside and outside the pocket. He has great speed, as we know – he set the rookie record for rushing touchdowns with 14 in 2011. This speed (combined with tremendous throwing ability) makes him one of the NFL’s true dual-threat quarterbacks. Grade: 9/10

Arm talent

In the pocket, Newton has shown the ability to be a great passing quarterback. When his mechanics are on point, his throws are always precise and accurate. He has immense natural arm talent, and can throw deep pass after pass in a game if necessary. Although he can sometimes rely on his arm too much to make throws, his general arm talent is better than what most quarterbacks possess. Grade: 8/10

Mechanics

Cam’s mechanics can be precise, but his throwing is inconsistent in this aspect of his game. He has all the natural talent in the world and has been working to fix minor errors in his game, which makes him an excellent passer. However, his weight transfer to his arm is not often on point, and his elbow is high, leading to low passes and inaccurate throws. Grade: 8/10

Mental make-up

He’s only been in the league for two seasons, but Newton has learned how NFL defenses are much different from college defenses. You can’t go into a game and expect to put up 50 points. But Newton has matured immensely – 90 percent of this game is mental, and he’s beginning to read defenses and blitz packages. He throws hot instead of taking off at times when he’s facing a blitz. Newton needs to do this more often, but his mental game certainly isn’t holding him back in any way. Grade: 7.5/10

Intangibles

I’m sure all of us remember the whole “being an entertainer” talk before his rookie year. And the “suggestion box”. And not to mention looking depressed and sulking with the towel over his head. His words and body language might prove to an extent that Newton can’t handle the big stage, but actions speak louder than words. His play on the field has spoken – he’s produced effectively. He will evolve into a leadership role with the team and has a bright future ahead of him if he keeps everything in check. Grade: 7.5/10

Overall impression

Cam Newton is a star quarterback with tremendous natural ability that can put the Panthers over the top. If his play stays improves even just a little, he and his team can perhaps push for the NFC South title in a division that seems to be up for grabs. Overall Grade: 40/50

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