Former NFL quarterback and current NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms said he still believes the former NFL MVP is "still one of the best quarterbacks in football for my money."
“It’s not about the quarterback stats all the time, it’s the effect you have on the football game," Simms told NBCSportsBoston.com. "He’s a little bit of a force of nature that way and I think that sometimes gets swept under the rug. …
“Cam Newton still has got one of the greatest presence of all quarterbacks on the NFL field. He’s a great leader, he’s a great worker. … You have to get over the passing numbers at times, and I understand work needs to be done. He’s one of the best running quarterbacks in football still, and his skillset running the football is one of the things that made that not-very-talented offense somewhat of a threat in certain weeks and it certainly made them one of the best running offenses in football.”
Last month, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addressed the team's quarterback competition following the selection of former Alabama quarterback Mac Jones at No. 15 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, reaffirming his stance that Newton would remain the team's starter heading into training camp and would remain so until Jones or third-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham were "ready to challenge and compete."
"Cam Newton's our quarterback," Belichick said during the Patriots' draft press conference in April. "Whatever time Jarrett or Mac are ready to challenge and compete, we'll see how that goes. But right now for Mac, he's just got a lot of learning in front of him. I know he's very anxious to get going and get started on it."
In March, the Patriots re-signed Newton, despite a disappointing first season with the franchise. The former NFL MVP threw for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions, while going 7-8 as a starter in 15 games.
Newton and the Patriots agreed to a one-year contract "worth up to $13.6 million," sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
The Patriots finished the 2020 season with a 7-9 overall record, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Simms isn't far behind Newton, according to Simms, who rated the rookie quarterback at No. 30 among his top 40 quarterback countdown.
"Yeah, he's a rookie, but he's an experienced rookie," Simms said via NBC Sports Boston. "And I know there's only 17 games in college, but it's all those years in Alabama and playing the tough SEC schedule and everything about that. And all the things you hear right now, listen, it's been nothing but positives. You don't even hear things about first-round picks in New England. They're quietly gushing about him. That just tells you it all. He is the most NFL-ready quarterback to come out in the draft this year, hands down."
Jones led Alabama to a College Football National Championship and was third in the Heisman voting behind teammate DeVonta Smith and Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence during his lone season as Alabama's full-time starting quarterback.
Jones threw for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns and four interceptions on 311 of 402 passing -- while also recording one rushing touchdown -- while leading the Crimson Tide to a 13-0 record in 2020.
Jones also made four starts in the absence of Tua Tagovailoa following a season-ending injury in 2019.