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ESPN’s Mel Kiper questions Cam Newton’s work ethic

Cam Newton Pro Workout

SAN DIEGO, CA - FEBRUARY 10: 2010 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Cam Newton of Auburn walks off the fiels after his workout routine for the media at Cathedral High School’s sports stadium on February 10, 2011 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kent Horner/ Getty Images)

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ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper held a conference call with reporters Wednesday morning, and echoed some of the same concerns about Auburn quarterback Cam Newton that were expressed in Pro Football Weekly draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki’s scathing scouting report.

Specifically, Kiper has major questions about Newton’s work ethic and ability to handle adversity.

“We know he loves to play the game of football,” said Kiper. “But this isn’t the NBA,” referring to the amount of study time required by NFL quarterbacks.

“Things came easy to Cam Newton (at Auburn). I hope he doesn’t think they’ll come easy in the NFL.” Kiper also wondered how Newton would deal with it when/if people begin calling him a bust.

Kiper’s questioning of Newton’s capability to handle adversity is surprising. Newton led Auburn to a BCS Championship and won the Heisman Trophy with a major college football scandal hanging over his head. And the direct subject of the scrutiny was Newton’s dad.

But the work ethic questions were also hinted at by Nawrocki, who criticized Newton for setting “bad examples,” punctuality, focus, and inability “to win a locker room.” Nawrocki called Newton unaccountable, unfocused, and even untrustworthy.

Comparisons of Newton to JaMarcus Russell have been unwarranted to this point; Newton is an in-shape, prototype athlete with a far more successful track record than Russell. Russell was fat, lacked drive, and addicted to drugs.

But if Newton has a work ethic similar to Russell’s, this link suddenly becomes much more viable.