KC Joyner of ESPN thinks so behind the Insider wall. In his article, he breaks down Newton and RG3 statistically as college players and surmises that RG3 may, if put in the right system and on the right team (factors that should never, ever be discounted), be able to break Newton's NFL rookie record. The following excerpt forms part of his argument:
In his 2010 Heisman Trophy-winning campaign with the Auburn Tigers, Newton averaged 9.3 yards per attempt (YPA) in games against opponents from BCS conferences. He also tallied a 12.9 vertical YPA (vertical defined as passes thrown 11 or more yards downfield) and a 15.5 stretch vertical YPA (aerials thrown 20 or more yards).
All of those are superb totals, but contrast them with the 2011 totals posted by Griffin in games against opponents from BCS conferences: 10.7 overall YPA (tops in the FBS), 16.0 vertical YPA and 23.0 stretch vertical YPA. Each of Griffin's marks is appreciably better than Newton's. While Griffin may not have the shiftiness Newton possesses, he is a terrific scrambler in his own right with elite speed that defenses must respect.
One of the likely reasons for the statistical edge is that the Baylor Bears' offense had more pro-style tendencies than the run-heavy spread offense Newton played in at Auburn. That allowed Griffin to attack defenses in a wider variety of ways than Newton was able to and should help reduce his pro transition time.
Joyner's is certainly worth reading if you have an Insider subscription. He goes into fairly significant detail about the two players and makes good points about why they are similar and why they are different. He also admits that any projection of what RG3 will do next season is, at best, an educated guess. This is the first article I've seen comparing the two players like this, a comparison which, at the NFL level, is driven largely by Newton's success this season and the fact that any rookie QB coming into the league will be judged against him the same way they were judged against Peyton Manning before. It is not, however, the first time I've seen the two compared. RG3 and Newton will, for better or worse, always be linked together as Heisman Trophy winners and high-profile African-American quarterbacks. If what Joyner says is true, they'll also be linked as the two best rookie QBs in NFL history.