ESPN's Mel Kiper and Todd McShay project Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Cam Newton to be selected by the Washington Redskins with the 10th overall selection in their latest mock draft. Newton is an intriguing blend of size and strength for the position. However, his improvisational talents are not likely to mesh well with Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan.
Shanahan values precision and accuracy in his quarterback and a willingness to play within the strict confines of his system. Newton comes from a spread offense at Auburn which allowed him to freelance and make plays with his feet. Spread quarterbacks are especially difficult to project at the NFL level and Newton's experience throwing the ball in rhythm from the pocket is very limited.
Newton's athletic gifts are rare, and its possible the Redskins coach could tailor his system to Newton's style of play. However, that is highly unlikely. Shanahan was unwilling to change his system to suit the strengths of QB Donovan McNabb last season. Although McNabb is a veteran player with eroding athletic ability, he possesses a comparable skill set to Newton. McNabb was unable or refused to adapt to Shanahan's scheme after 11 seasons under center in Philadelphia. In Shanahan's mind, you either run his system the way it's supposed to be done or he will replace you with someone who will.