In the weeks leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft, NESN.com will be taking a closer look at this year’s quarterback class and how each player could fit with the New England Patriots. Next up: Wake Forest’s Jamie Newman.
Jamie Newman, Wake Forest/Georgia
6-foot-2 7/8, 234 pounds, 9 3/4-inch hands
Projected round: Day 3
2019 stats: 60.9 percent (220-for-361), 2,868 yards, 26 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 7.9 yards per attempt; 180 carries, 574 rushing yards, six touchdowns (12 games)
2020 stats: None (opt-out)
Strengths: Arm strength, downfield ball placement, rushing ability, size
Weaknesses: Raw, awareness in pocket, college offense, decision-making, poor Senior Bowl performance
Testing numbers: DNP
Analysis: During the lead-up to this year’s draft, a clear QB hierarchy has emerged.
There’s the consensus top five of Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, BYU’s Zach Wilson, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Alabama’s Mac Jones. Lawrence, Wilson and one of Fields/Lance/Jones will go 1-2-3 overall, and the other two will follow shortly thereafter.
Then, you have your second tier: Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond, Stanford’s Davis Mills and Florida’s Kyle Trask. They’re all likely to come off the board on Day 2, though there’s a chance one could sneak into the end of the first round.
Beyond that are your wild cards — the late-round fliers who aren’t likely to carve out successful NFL careers but possess at least a few desirable traits. That’s where Newman resides, alongside Notre Dame’s Ian Book, Texas’ Sam Ehlinger, SMU’s Shane Buechele and Arkansas’ Feleipe Franks.
Opinions on Newman’s standing within that group vary. The consensus top 300 rankings compiled by The Athletic’s Arif Hassan have him as the ninth-best quarterback — the best of the rest, so to speak — and the 165th overall prospect. He’s ninth in Pro Football Focus’ top 300, too, and 174th overall.
Others are more bearish on Newman’s stock. The Athletic’s Dane Brugler has him ranked 11th among QBs (behind Book and Ehlinger) and 256th overall. In the eyes of NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah, he’s dead last among the 13 signal-callers with the best chances of being drafted.
All agree, though, that Newman is a Day 3 prospect who falls squarely into the “project” category. He showed legit pro potential at Wake Forest in 2019 — his only year as a full-time collegiate starter — but remains raw and unfinished after not playing at all in 2020.
In reviewing Newman’s 2019 film, you see a player who knows how to place the ball where he wants it on deep passes, back-shoulder throws and strikes down the middle of the field. His average depth of target (11.08 yards downfield, per PFF) ranked second among QBs in this year’s draft behind Lance, and his combined accuracy and ADOT ranked sixth. Newman also used his musclebound frame to his advantage in the run game, surpassing 100 rushing yards in wins over Boston College and Duke.
Over his first seven starts, Newman completed 67.2 percent of his passes, averaged 8.3 yards per attempt, threw 20 touchdown passes with five interceptions and led Wake Forest to a 6-1 record. Multiple game broadcasts compared him to Cam Newton.
Then top wideouts Sage Surratt and Scotty Washington suffered season-ending injuries in early November, and Newman and the Demon Deacons cratered. Newman completed just 47.4 percent of his passes over his final five games, his yards-per-attempt average dropped to 7.1, he threw as many picks (six) as touchdowns, and his team went 1-4, including a 52-3 loss to Lawrence and Clemson.
And that’s the last we’ve seen of Newman in meaningful game action. He transferred to Georgia last January but never played a snap for them, opting out three weeks before the Bulldogs’ season opener, citing COVID-19 concerns.
A season in the SEC would have given Newman — who, despite his rough finish in 2019, was considered one of the top quarterback prospects last offseason — an opportunity to patch some of the holes in his game, like the poor awareness of pass rushers he often displayed. He also would have played in a pro-style offense rather than Wake Forest’s effective but unorthodox “slow mesh” system, which was heavily reliant on slow-developing RPOs and option runs and complicated Newman’s NFL projection.
Alas, those questions remain, as do ones about Newman’s durability after he suffered shoulder and ankle injuries on running plays and a leg injury on a sack in 2019.
Newman did return to the field at the 2021 Senior Bowl but didn’t help his cause in Mobile, struggling in practice and the game while acknowledging he felt rusty. He went 10-for-14 with one touchdown and one interception in the annual pre-draft showcase, but four of his completions came on checkdowns to running backs and two more were to targets within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage.
These concerns will drive Newman toward the lower depth of this year’s draft, but his tools and upside make him worthy of a late-round lottery ticket. He’d be a Sunday option for the Patriots if they miss out on the top five QBs and pass on Mond, Mills and Trask, though they really should be aiming higher with only Newton, Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala on their current depth chart.
Newman doesn’t quite fit the mold of what New England typically looks for in its quarterbacks, however. As we noted in our profile of Mills, the last seven QBs the Patriots have drafted all started at least 21 games in college. Newman falls short of that mark with 16 starts over two seasons.
The Patriots also like their signal-callers to be more responsible with the ball than Newman was in 2019. His 3.05 percent interception rate that year would be the second-highest ever by a Bill Belichick-era Pats pick and the highest since Zac Robinson in 2010 (3.99 percent). Newman’s 11 interceptions nearly equaled the combined total from Stidham’s, Danny Etling’s and Jacoby Brissett’s final collegiate seasons (13). They were at 1.36 percent, 0.73 percent and 1.52 percent, respectively.
Whether they like him or not, Newman likely has been on the Patriots’ radar for a while. His starting left tackle at Wake Forest was Justin Herron, whom New England drafted in the sixth round last year. Newman’s entry in Brugler’s draft guide features a quote from Herron, who called the QB “the hardest worker I’ve ever met.”