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Panthers' Ron Rivera on Cam Newton: 'An awful lot of room to grow'

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How much will Newton improve with Benjamin? (1:27)

Jarrett Bell and Mark Schlereth break down how much better Panthers QB Cam Newton will be with WR Kelvin Benjamin back on the field as well as areas that he can still improve on. (1:27)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Cam Newton wasn’t among the top 101 players ranked by Pro Football Focus after the 2014 season.

Now he’s No. 8.

That makes the reigning NFL MVP the highest-ranked quarterback from 2015.

And according to coach Ron Rivera, who was interviewed Wednesday afternoon on ESPN 730 AM, Newton is just "scratching the surface" of what he can be.

"He’s got an awful lot of room to grow," Rivera told the radio station. "He can really transcend this game in many different ways because of the way the game is played today.

"The game is played at an up tempo, it’s played from a spread offense, it’s played from the shotgun ... the quarterback makes the opportunity to whether run, throw or pass. I mean, he truly is a triple threat now."

The second-rated quarterback from 2015, according to PFF, was Tom Brady at No. 14. Arizona’s Carson Palmer was next at No. 15 and Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger next at 29.

But Newton wasn’t even the top-ranked Carolina player in PFF's "all positions are created equal" poll. That honor went to middle linebacker Luke Kuechly, who was No. 3 behind Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown.

Kuechly rose from ninth after the 2014 season.

Carolina had nine players in the top 101, including former cornerback Josh Norman (Washington Redskins) at No. 11.

The others were defensive tackle Kawann Short (30), tight end Greg Olsen (67), right guard Trai Turner (79), running back Jonathan Stewart (83), left guard Andrew Norwell (99) and outside linebacker Thomas Davis (100).

Newton, Norman, Short, Turner, Stewart and Norwell were unranked a year ago.

But Newton made by far the biggest climb, and according to Rivera, he still could climb higher.

"As he continues to learn and understand more and more about offensive and defensive plays, his decision-making is going to be even better," Rivera told 730 AM. "As long as he continues to stay healthy and keep getting better physically and work on his base fundamentals, I think the young man is going to get better."