Didn't see this posted already, it's an Insider article so here is most of the article:
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton only threw for 171 yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, but that was all he needed to set his latest benchmark. Newton now has 3,893 passing yards this season, breaking Peyton Manning's rookie record of 3,739 set in 1998. Newton also has 14 rushing touchdowns, the most for any quarterback in a single season, rookie or otherwise. So the obvious question becomes: Have we ever seen anyone -- or anything -- like this?
Frankly, no. At Football Outsiders, we use similarity scores to find historical matches for contemporary players. (Similarity scores were invented by baseball analyst Bill James and have since been used by many other statisticians for many other sports.) Our formula uses not just on-field performance, but also factors such as size, age and experience in an attempt to predict each player's future.
Newton essentially breaks our similarity score system. He's on pace for 719 rushing yards. The only quarterbacks who have rushed for more than 700 yards since the merger are Michael Vick, Bobby Douglass and Randall Cunningham. (Vick has done it three times and can make it four with 114 yards against Washington next week. The Golden Calf of Bristol needs 56 yards against Kansas City to join the club.) The system doesn't know what to do with all that ground yardage and tries to match up Newton with occasional scramblers, such as Mark Brunell and Don Majkowski.
Newton's rushing ability is no fluke, and at 6-foot-5 and 248 pounds, there's no reason to expect his numbers on the ground to dissipate anytime soon. To get a better picture of his performance, let's separate his passing stats from his rushing stats. Since we can't find anyone who could run and throw like Newton, let's start with players who threw like him, then look for those who ran like him.
Projecting Newton's stats over 16 games gives us 315 completions, 525 attempts, 4,153 yards, 21 touchdowns and 17 interceptions, all at the tender age of 22. Here are the 10 quarterback seasons most similar to that since 1978:
Then there's a table that compares him to a bunch of impressive seasons by QBs, most notably Manning in '99 and '01, Rodgers in '08, Marino in '85, and Culpepper in '00. Then he's compared to RBs:
Man, that's a good group of passers. Dan Marino's in the Hall of Fame, Peyton Manning is on his way and Aaron Rodgers looks destined to join them. Newton's numbers right now look like what those guys were going in their second, third and fourth seasons. Daunte Culpepper (remember, this is looking at passing stats only) and Carson Palmer were two of the league's hottest young stars before their careers turned some. And then we have a bunch of guys from the 1980s. That could be a reflection of Newton's strong arm and long-ball style, which is rare in today's NFL. He's presently averaging 13.2 yards per completion. That would be one of the top 20 rates this century, but it would barely make the top 100 rates of the 1980s.
And Newton the rusher? He's projected to hit 128 carries for 719 yards and 15 touchdowns. Here are the running backs most similar to that since 1978 (not counting receiving stats):
Then a table that compares him to some RBs, notably Herschel Walker '86, MJD '06, Ickey Woods '88, Brian Westbrook '03.
Even restricting our list to running backs, it's hard to find players who have posted seasons like Newton. The touchdown totals start to drop pretty quickly. It's worth noting that Newton's four closest matches started their careers as parts of committees but went on to become not just feature tailbacks, but Pro Bowlers. That's the kind of ground game Newton brings to the table.
In short, it's fair to say that Newton has played like a young Peyton Manning and a rookie Herschel Walker all rolled into one. Any questions about who the rookie of the year should be?