Why Undrafted?: Jamie Newman, QB, Wake Forest

This series was created a number of years ago in response to questions about why certain well-known prospects went unselected in NFL drafts. For these articles, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. The positive response to “Why Undrafted” and questions from readers about why prospects were drafted lower than the media expectations led us to create the parallel series “Why the Slide?”

Both series are back this year. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

During the fall of 2019, Wake Forest quarterback Jamie Newman created a positive buzz in the scouting community. He showed a big improvement as a junior, completing 61 percent of his passes for 2,868 yards with 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also rushed for another six touchdowns and 464 yards. Newman had graduated from Wake Forest afterward, but he decided to transfer rather than enter the 2020 NFL Draft.

At the time, Newman said staying in school was based on his need to develop and prepare for the next level. He then landed at Georgia, where he would have likely been the replacement for Jake Fromm, but Newman decided to sit out the 2020 season because of the pandemic. Newman then participated in the 2021 Senior Bowl, but he put together an underwhelming week of practice in front of NFL scouts. Still, on the back of his quality skill set, Newman was expected to end up as a mid-round or third-day selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, it was surprising when he went undrafted.

Team sources say a few issues combined to send Newman into the undrafted ranks, with the biggest factors being some makeup and off-the-field concerns. Pro contacts were discreet, but one scout said, “The transfer had some things to consider. The situation was not crystal clear or clean, all things considered. There was some reflection on character in and of itself.”

After falling undrafted, Newman signed with the Philadelphia Eagles. They are a great landing spot for him because they only had two quarterbacks on their roster at the time, which instantly positions Newman as the third-string player. Additionally, Philadelphia does not have a clear-cut quarterback of the future on the roster after trading away Carson Wentz.

Jalen Hurts is the team’s projected starter, but he is an unproven in that role and there are some who doubt whether Hurts can pan out as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Philadelphia was supposedly interested in trading up for Zach Wilson in the 2021 NFL Draft, so even in the organization that drafted him in the second round a year ago, it appears there are doubts about Hurts as the future starter. The Eagles’ other quarterback is broken-down veteran journeyman Joe Flacco. Thus, Newman is in a great landing spot.

If Newman plays well in practice and works hard, he could receive playing time consideration at some point if Hurts struggles and Flacco continues to show he’s no longer an effective player. Most likely, Newman is in an excellent position to win a roster spot as the third quarterback or earn a practice squad spot if the Eagles only carry two quarterbacks. While Newman is probably disappointed at not getting drafted, he made an astute move by signing with Philadelphia, which gives him a great opportunity to stick in the NFL for at least 2021.

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