Of all the players in college football who were primed to take the field for the 2020 season, no one was more intriguing than quarterback Jamie Newman.
The senior signal-caller was poised to take over the Georgia Bulldogs' starting job after spending the first three years of his career at Wake Forest. He first burst onto the college scene back in 2018 by earning an 83.8 passing grade in four starts in relief of then-starter Sam Hartman and subsequently won the starting job for 2019.
Newman had “breakout star” written all over him. In fact, he came in as our third-ranked returning college quarterback this past offseason, falling just short of Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields. I was so confident in him taking over Georgia’s offense that I wrote in January of 2020 that he made the Bulldogs my early pick to take home the College Football Playoff National Championship.
However, that prediction never had a chance to come to fruition as Newman decided to opt out of the season due to COVID-19 and focus on the 2021 NFL Draft before the start of the season.
Newman had a real shot to put himself in the Round 1 conversation with a strong 2020 in Todd Monken’s pro-style offense after playing in the up-tempo/RPO-heavy attack at Wake, but his decision to opt out all but solidified his standing as a Day 2 pick at best in the upcoming draft.
I think I speak for all evaluators out there when I say that it was a decision I wholeheartedly respect, but it is still unfortunate that it had to be this way.
But if Newman does slide into the middle of Day 2, as many expect, he could well end up being the best value pick in the entire draft given the possible reward and the fact he plays the most important position on the field.
First and foremost, Newman's situation at Wake Forest was not good. Just as Mike Renner noted in the PFF 2021 NFL Draft Guide, Newman was forced to play in a simplistic offense chock full of run-pass options and go-balls and only utilized a small fraction of his arm talent.
He also had to deal with a distinct lack of separators within his receiving unit, forcing him to throw into more tight windows than any other NFL-caliber player in the country. In fact, 53.2% of his total pass attempts in 2019 targeted a tight or closing window, over five percentage points higher than any other quarterback in college football that year.
When comparing that to the other top quarterbacks in the 2021 class, the difference is staggering.