There are countless enigmas when it comes to the NFL draft. This year there might be no greater puzzle than former Wake Forest quarterback Jamie Newman.
Newman played three seasons with the Demon Deacons, with some impressive results along the way. He transferred to Georgia prior to the 2020 season as a graduate transfer, but then opted out of the season due to the pandemic.
In some ways, his story is similar to that of North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance. The football world doesn’t have much game tape on either QB since 2019, they are both dual-threat quarterbacks and they even see the same QB coach, Quincy Avery. Newman, though, doesn’t have the first-round hype that Lance does.
To learn more about Newman – a day-three prospect according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper – Wake Forest beat writer Conor O’Neill joined Sean Hammond on the Shaw Local Bears Insider podcast. O’Neill also covered Newman’s high school career in Graham, North Carolina, so he has watched Newman’s entire career play out. O’Neill’s work can be found on Substack at WakeUpCo.substack.com and you can find him on Twitter at @ConorONeillFA.
A short snippet of the discussion with O’Neill is available here in Q&A form. The entire conversation can be heard on the Shaw Local Bears Insider podcast at shawlocal.com, Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever podcasts are available.
The following has been edited for clarity and length.
Were you surprised he transferred to Georgia?
O’Neill: “I wasn’t surprised he left Wake, but I was surprised it was transfer and not jumping to the NFL last year. Wake runs a very unique offense with a slow mesh. They basically walk the ball up to the line of scrimmage in their RPO. It’s a slow-developing play almost half their plays. Whether it was other coaches getting in his head or if it was NFL scouts or a personal QB coach, they kind of got in his head – and I don’t think they’re necessarily wrong when they say that if you want to be an NFL quarterback, if you want to be drafted, you have to show that you can play in an offense that isn’t just this unique thing that only works at Wake Forest. It’s almost like a triple option where it’s successful because it’s so difficult to plan for.
“So I thought he would be jumping to the NFL. I thought he had put enough tape out there in the first two-third of the season in 2019 to warrant a day-three pick.”
He’s a proven athlete who can run, which NFL teams love. If you surround him with NFL-level talent, does he have the arm to find success?
O’Neill: “Yeah, I definitely think he does. This is tough because I was saying these things to somebody who covers Georgia in January of 2020 and now he’s had 15 months to refine his skillset and I haven’t seen it, really nobody has seen it. But I told the Georgia reporter, he’s really good at deep balls. To me, his accuracy, his arm strength on the deep ball is NFL ready. I think I’ve seen enough of that to be able to say that.
“Where he needed work was short to intermediate passes. Sometimes those passes over the middle would have a little too much heat. Sometimes he’d miss a little high and you can never miss high over the middle. I think that that can be refined. It might have already been refined. He’s been working with Quincy Avery down in Atlanta for the better part of eight or nine months. That part of his game might already be fixed. We’ll see a little bit of that at Pro Day [on Wednesday]. I don’t know that we’ll get the full picture until he gets into a preseason game.”
Is this a guy you would take a flyer on in the late rounds?
O’Neill: “Yeah, I think so. He’s not going to be a Russell Wilson that you draft in the third round and then all the sudden you’ve got a franchise quarterback. He’s going to be a guy that you need to spend a year or two on developing and making sure that he has the system down, making sure that he’s technically sound. I think in the right situation and with the right coaching, it’s hard for me not to think that this can be an NFL quarterback.”